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Local Velddrif woman climbs business ladder

When businesswoman, wife and loving mother, Petro Swartz, decided to take a leap and start her own construction business, she was entering an economic space predominantly run by men.

Over the years, the Velddrif-born businesswoman has faced her fair share of challenges.

Her business savvy started when she was young and her late father, a local fisherman, taught her how to “stand with dignity and remain honest”. She credits her father’s wisdom for many of her business decisions today.

Petro started as a salesperson and was later crowned top Western Cape salesperson by the company she was working for in 1998.

She believes actively working in the field with the products she sold to customers, was very important.

After nearly two decades at JD Group she wanted more and decided the only way she could move higher in her field was to branch out on her own.

Real estate was next. Petro worked with her husband at Skylo Properties and the duo created a solid strategic plan and was given the go-ahead for a business loan.

However, various challenges lead to the closing of Skylo Properties which was a blow to the whole family. “I lost everything,” says Petro. “I lost my cars, I lost my bakkies. My husband didn’t have a teaching job, so we had to start from the beginning again.”

Later she met Leon Meadon, director at Vict Systems, who introduced her to EOH.

EOH, is an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) company. Petro and her business Waycons Distribution soon became part of the EOH family. Petro says she felt supported and was treated with respect and as an equal who had found her big break.

EOH launched its first Business in a Box distribution centre in November as part of their Enterprise Development Programme. Business in a Box essentially creates opportunities for small-scale entrepreneurs to become EOH suppliers or vendors, while receiving business support and mentorship.

Petro had free office space thanks to EOH ECI Coastal which provided her with a base for operations for the 12 months, already neatly stocked with supplies.

According to EOH the opportunity provides Petro with additional help to establish a reputable brand. EOH says the Business in a Box distribution centre was launched to benefit entrepreneurs and small businesses

“This concept is based on giving back. If more entrepreneurs are empowered to become successful, more employment opportunities are created, and we will see a turn­around in the economy of both our province and our country”, says Riaan Herbst, Managing Director for ECI Coastal.

“In the specific case of Waycons Distribution, we set up the distribution infrastructure to equip them to become one of our suppliers.

“As they create employment and generate an income from the business we send their way, we also put them through an intensive entrepreneur development programme, which will see them operating successfully within 12 months”.

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