Olga Davids from WHD Engineering is a graduate from the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Rapid Incubator (CFERI) programme offered by False Bay College. Whilst she completed her incubation in 2019, her husband and business partner, Warren Davids, completed his qualification at Westlake nearly 20 years ago. (2001)
This brief story relates to their entrepreneurial journey from 2015, culminating in a successful application for funding in March 2020. This funding will position them strategically for growth into the next few years.
In February 2015, after years of experience in the engineering industry and working in various roles / positions for a number of engineering companies, Warren Davids registered his own company as he realised that he could create much more value in the engineering market and industry. Warren obtained his qualification in Fitting and Turning from False Bay TVET College in 2001 and his Red Seal certification from Northlink College in 2012, and is currently the Operations Director of WHD Engineering (Pty) Ltd.
Olga obtained her degree in business administration from Stellenbosch University in 2006 and worked for Absa Bank for 11 years before joining WHD Engineering (Pty) Ltd in May 2017 as Managing Director. Their business services include Precision Engineering; General Engineering; Sales and Reconditioning of industrial geared motors and Environmental Management (recently incorporated in the business).
The CFERI programme assisted a great deal to increase productivity of all their employees, including herself by motivation and continuous training and implementing the knowledge gained into the day-to-day operations of the business as well as improvement of innovation.
It assisted with a deeper understanding of her role of being a co-owner, changing management skills to leadership skills which directly impacted in boosting personal and staff morale and created a more enjoyable work environment and dynamic team. She personally gained the ability to set business goals and use the organizational skills to focus their energies to take the business to the next level.
One of the biggest challenges, Olga recounts, is being able to overcome self-doubt; this is a necessary quality as an entrepreneur and having family and friends who knows and supports your goals through the darkest days surely motivates you on your path to business success.
“Being a female entrepreneur, especially with no engineering degree in a male dominated industry is very challenging and tough, but is an equally rewarding experience and taught me self-discovery and how to believe in myself. The only way to gain respect from clients and suppliers is to get your hands dirty and show you’re willing to learn and do whatever it takes. As women, we need to encourage other women to follow their dreams and share our experiences so that we can learn from each other – this is how we grow personally and professionally.”
Olga and Warren spent much time in 2019 seeking appropriate funding. In the face of many “rejections”, they persevered. Early applications were not approved but they persevered into late 2019. Finally, in March this year, they received a loan/grant. The facility awarded is in the amount of R2.2 million of which R860k is a grant and R1.34 million loan portion. This funding will be used for the purchase of Machinery (Lathes/Milling machines and delivery vehicles), as well as an input into cashflow.
As for advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, Olga says “Concentrate on your strengths; Take risks, even if you make a mistake; Stay positive and never give up. On a personal note – have Faith in God, yourself and your capabilities”
Issued by Steve Reid: Centre for Entrepreneurship | Rapid Incubator Manager