Gcora’s journey from rags to riches filled with bumps

Johannesburg- Two years ago, 28-year-old chemical engineering graduate Makwande Gcora was unemployed after his one-year internship ended, but today he employs five interns at his manufacturing company.

Gcora, from the rural area of Ngcobo in Eastern Cape, is now aiming to be a successful entrepreneur and compete with the best in a fast-growing chemical engineering sector.

“I come from a poor background.  I grew up with no access to electricity, with only my father who was working as a construction worker,” said Gcora.

When Gcora was in matric, his father lost his job and the family relied on income from a spaza shop his father had started to make ends meet.

He graduated with national diploma in chemical engineering from Cape Peninsula University of Technology in 2017.

“After my graduation, I got an internship at one of the leading manufacturing companies. Luckily, I was exposed to production, my area of interest. This is where I developed the skill to run production,” he said.

At the end of his internship in 2019, and while his peers were job hunting, the then 26-year-old Gcora registered his chemical engineering company Makwande Chemicals.

The company was not doing well. In January 2020, he enrolled at Tshwane University of Technology, where he obtained his bachelor of technology in chemical engineering.

“I then had to shift my focus to finding a job in order to sustain my life in Gauteng. Luckily, I found a job, but I was only looking for the money that can help me to manufacture my chemicals and to sell my products,” he said.

Gcora said when his company blossomed, he left his job to focus on his business full-time.

He was approached by a manufacturing company that offered him an opportunity to expand his business.

“I managed to recruit five interns and I can safely say that my company has been doing well since.”

Makwande Chemicals now has a warehouse in Ebony Park, Johannesburg.

It manufactures a wide range of products.

These include cleaning products, dishwashing liquids, plastics, paper, fertilisers, petrochemicals and hand sanitisers. Gcora is looking to expand his staff to 12 next year.

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