Entrepreneur and Business Leadership South Africa CEO Bonang Mohale and Afrika Tikkun Capital have acquired a 25.1% interest in industrial chemical cleaning business Gra-Tech.
Mohale described the investment as a “vote of confidence in South Africa’s heavy industrial sector” and adds that it is consistent with his investment strategy, which is aimed at getting involved in more industrial, engineering and infrastructure projects as these “contribute greatly to economic growth”.
The Gra-Tech investment is the fifth investment made through the 100% black-owned and 75% women-owned Serialong Trust since 2002.
The Serialong Trust is putting its effort behind Gra-Tech as, in order for South Africa to attract much-needed foreign direct investment, South Africa must lead by example through direct domestic investment.
Africa Tikkun Capital, a joint venture with the Afrika Tikkun Endowment Trust which was set up for the benefit of Afrika Tikkun NPC, works in disadvantaged communities, focusing on early childhood development, healthcare, nutrition and “cradle to grave” family support projects.
Its goal is to ensure that black youth and, in particular, young black women have the same employment opportunities as more privileged youth.
Gra-Tech CEO David Nuttall, who is the son of Gra-Tech’s founder and has been at Gra-Tech since it began operations in 1982, said that “bringing in a businessperson of Mohale’s stature and experience will sustain growth in the current tough economy, uplift its current staff complement and enable it to build bigger and better relationships for the benefit of the company and its employees.
Operations director Darren Cornish, who joined in 1986, remains confident about the company’s future, adding that “over the years, Gra-Tech has acquired an expert knowledge that encompasses most of South Africa’s industrial plants, often surpassing that of their owners”.
“Considering the low talent retention rates in these sectors, Gra-Tech retains deep institutional knowledge. Our job is keeping huge assets alive – we are looking after the backbone of national infrastructure,” he added.
While Mohale noted that he will not be a silent partner, averring that he would be actively involved in operations, driving growth, sustainability, corporate resilience and transformation.
He will leverage his over 30 years of experience in the private sector and experience in the petrochemicals industry to grow the business by expanding both the range of industries and the number of countries it operates in.
Mohale said he was attracted to the investment by the fact that its offering was essential to keeping industrial plants operating and by Nuttall and Cornish’s “genuine desire” to “keep the lights on” so that the economy can grow.
He said he had been impressed by the pair’s patriotism: “All of us only have one South African passport, we have nowhere else to go and it is incumbent on us to make South Africa work.
“Only if there is economic growth can we talk about redistribution of wealth, otherwise we are just talking about redistribution of poverty,” Mohale said.
“Furthermore, we are determined that Afrika Tikkun Capital’s investment should provide opportunities and learnerships for their pool of young talent in other industries. This will help tackle youth unemployment; an issue which, as a national priority, requires everyone’s input.”
The deal was put together by entrepreneur Andrew Robinson, who introduced Gra-Tech’s Nuttall and Cornish to Serialong Trust and Afrika Tikkun Capital.