When Bongani Mathabela landed a job at ProCell, little did he know he’d be calling the shots five years later.

“It’s tough out there.” Danie Cronje, owner of cellphone repair and retail group ProCell, frequently uses this phrase during staff meetings to emphasise that nothing comes easy, certainly not in business and certainly not when you’re competing in an open economy.

One man listened. Meet Bongani Mathabela, whose inspirational story proves good guys don’t finish last.

In December 2012, Mathabela applied for a position as a shop assistant at ProCell Botshabelo in the Free State. He got the job and worked his way up to technician, then manager.

As a service business with expansion in mind, ProCell – which has been operating for a decade – follows a strategy of running owner-operated outlets. It did not have to look far to find a suitable candidate for the Botshabelo business.

With financial assistance from the holding company, Mathabela became the owner of that store on September 1 this year and, in doing so, set a great example of what could be achieved through hard work.

For the past few years he has also managed several other outlets under Cronje’s leadership.

Bongani Mathabela & Danie Cronje

Asked about his future, Mathabela said: ”I have to admit it’s been quite a journey for me here at ProCell, from being a shop assistant to now being store owner. For me it’s a great achievement.

“I am now faced with a greater challenge as I am building my own future. It means I’ll have to work harder than before. I still have a lot to learn in this business but it’s nothing one can’t overcome with a positive attitude and the right ambition.”

He added: “In the not-so-distant future I am aiming to open my second store when I am strong enough to juggle the responsibilities I have. To everyone who is working hard to make it in life: keep it up and great things shall come your way!”

Cronje said: ”ProCell needs to become the household name for cellphone repairs in South Africa. During the next few years, we intend breaking the 100-store mark and our ultimate objective is to have 1,000 stores across the country during the next 20 years. To achieve this, we will continue to drive owner-operated stores.”

Read the original article in The Sowetan right here…