On 8 March 2018, we celebrated International Women’s Day, a day that is celebrated in many countries around the world. ‘It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political’.
In 2018 for this day, we celebrated a black woman, Salome Poto, who has not only contributed to the South African economy, but has through her strength, hard work and dedication, managed to start and lead a successful business in a ‘predominantly white-male space’ the motor industry.
Salome Poto is the owner of Excellence Motor Trimmers, an automotive aftermarket company based in Hatfield that makes car seats, carpets and roof linings. Poto obtained an ISO SHEQ 9001 certification with the assistance of the AIDC.
Poto has worked in the motor industry for over ten years but we as left unemployed after being retrenched. With her R40 000 severance package, and the skills she’s acquired, even though she had no educational background, she thought of starting her own business, and so began to invest in it. With the help of her other three male partners who had no capital at the time, the Excellence Motor Trimmers business idea came to life. “Our next step was to find where we’re going to establish the business, we had it in our hands, but we didn’t know where we were going to operate” said Poto. In 2007 a family friend gave them a place to commence their business operations, in Hatfield.
When Poto started the business, she only had four employees, today she employs 34 people in her company, with a turnover of R10 million rand in the 2017/2018 financial year.
Poto is recognized amongst women who have received the Technology Women in Business Award, which has contributed tremendously to the growth of her business.
Some of the challenges she faces in the industry include being disadvantaged by her suppliers for leather and ant other material due to unstable pricing. Her suppliers also happen to be her competitors in the industry. But despite those challenges, she still preservers.
To encourage women who want to become entrepreneurs, this is what Salome had to say, “Be strong and make sure that you start something that you like, because when you do something you don’t like, you will not be able to overcome challenges that you come across. Poto also reiterated that women should have the courage to just start what they want to do.