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Brainwave Primary Cooperative on sound footing to fulfil major contract after completing Seriti ESD Programme

Brainwave Primary Cooperative is a Standerton-based entity that provides mechanical and auto-electrical maintenance services in the Mpumalanga province. Having completed the Seriti Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) Programme in 2021, the company is now better positioned to deliver on a large, multi-year contract.

Client background

Brainwave Primary Cooperative was established in 2018 and has seven founding members and currently has 35 employees. The entity was formed as means to drive a large scale and meaningful socio-economic development in by taking advantage of the opportunities afforded to co-operatives. Brainwave had its major breakthrough when it got a contract from Seriti’s New Denmark Colliery in Standerton for the supply of labour in the auto-electrical, Mechanical maintenance and repairs of LDV’s. Brainwave was awarded the contract effective from August 2019 and runs for three years. The contract was awarded to Brainwave as a part of Seriti’s ESD development programme and has Brainwave carry out daily LVD maintenance work at a workshop in New Denmark colliery’s central and North shafts. The entity also has a workshop in Standerton where it carries out major repair services and maintenance. The entity aims to raise enough capital to expand to other business-related fields such as hydraulic equipment maintenance and repairs and also grow their Auto spares sales division to a thriving and sustainable one.

The challenge

Since its inception, Brainwave Primary Cooperative has identified challenges and shortcomings in its ability to fulfil the terms of the multi-year Seriti Coal maintenance and repair contract. The contract exposed the cooperative to unprecedented growth opportunities, which would help it to fulfil its vision of bringing about socio-economic development by creating jobs and other economic opportunities for local community members. At the same time, the Seriti Coal contract also brought about the potential to place Brainwave on a solid financial footing and thus position it for future growth. However, the entity felt that it was thrown in the deep end as its members lacked business experience and Brainwave did not have the resources or capacity to successfully deliver on the contract. The young community members who founded Brainwave did not have entrepreneurial skills and also struggled to manage the group’s finances. In addition, the entity lacked the skills and knowledge to market itself effectively, realising that it was likely to struggle to secure future work, beyond the Seriti Coal contract. The entity realised that it would need help and appropriate guidance in order to not only fulfil its current contract, but to sustain its grow and diversify its client base.

The solution

In 2020, Brainwave applied and was selected to join the Seriti ESD Programme, which was designed to identify Small, Medium, and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in the specified local communities in which Seriti Coal operates. Seriti Coal contracted Zevoli Growth Partners to develop and implement the ESD programme on its behalf, in line with Seriti’s commitment to support local SMMEs in acquiring essential business skills needed to expand their operating capacity. A recruitment and awareness campaign attracted more than 500 SMME applications. The ESD programme, a capacity and capability building and mentorship initiative, , ran between February and July 2021. The structured mentorship and training programme was aimed at helping SMMEs improve their operational efficiency, expand market share, grow strategically and align to a level of sustainability.

Brainwave identified the Seriti ESD Programme as the ideal platform for it to gain the necessary knowledge, skills and guidance to position itself as an effective business and position it for future growth. Melusi Shongwe, founding member of Brainwave Primary Cooperative, represented the entity at the Seriti ESD Programme. Brainwave’s participation in the programme highlighted several areas that needed attention, particularly the entity’s inadequate management of finances, lack of project management abilities, and marketing knowledge. The cooperative received training and guidance through the monthly mentorship and coaching, business growth learning programming and digital marketing modules that formed part of the ESD programme. Several tools and resources were deployed for Brainwave, including a financial management system that could track its finances, and create quotes, invoices and payslips at the touch of a button. It also received a project management tool to manage its time, teams and projects in a systematic way. Lastly, the ESD programme included the creation of a corporate identity, including logo and website design, and  social media training to bulk up the entity’s marketing skills.

The result

Since completing the course, Brainwave gained critical knowledge that allowed it to recognise the importance of establishing a professional working environment that is conducive, drafting policies, drawing up budgets and instilling safe and professional work practices. The cooperative is currently renovating their infrastructure and positioning itself for sustainable growth. In addition, the entity now understands the importance of, and engages in, networking and forming relationships. The cooperative’s revenue grew by 25% and its staff compliment by 24% over the ESD programme period.  The financial and project management tools that were implemented at Brainwave have allowed the entity to work more efficiently and effectively, and it is currently considering increasing its scope of work at New Denmark. As a result, it is looking at hiring more people.

“Our aim has always been to accelerate the growth and sustainability of small and medium sized (SMME) businesses within our host communities, and we do this because we believe it is the right thing to do. Through our ESD programme, we are able to grow and sustain entrepreneurs to enter the economy and augment the creation of employment through entrepreneurship.”

Jacques de Klerk, Head: Supply Chain at Seriti

“The Seriti ESD Programme has been phenomenal. The knowledge that we’ve gained is pivotal to creating a professional work environment that will position Brainwave for sustainable growth.”

Melusi Shongwe, Director and founding member of Brainwave Primary Cooperative

“It has been an amazing journey observing Brainwave’s progression and growth through its participation in the Seriti ESD program. The skills development and financial management support provided have gone and continue to go a long way in ensuring the SMME’s long term sustainability.”

Mamaitse Moloi, Business Development Analyst at Zevoli Growth Partners


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