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Self-belief is the biggest ingredient for success

A successful entrepreneurial journey starts with a determined vision, a little bit of self-belief and faith in your own ability. According to Erina van Schalkwyk, owner of GEL Supply Chain and entrant of the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, this is the winning recipe for a thriving business and fruitful entrepreneurial adventure.

Erina and her husband, Gert, have had an exciting journey in the logistics sector over the last few years, and even more so recently with the opening of new successful businesses in 2015.

Inspired to support her family after her father’s unexpected death some 10 years ago, Erina started her first business, VS Logistiek – a brokerage business that transported bulk truck loads. She was at the time assisting her husband’s family business, which owned 27 trucks, but soon noticed an opportunity to turn her side-line business into a fully-fledged operation.

As with most entrepreneurial journeys, there were many ups and downs for Erina’s business. She credits her success to the experience she gained over her lifetime in the investment, banking, retail and logistics sectors.

In 2010, Erina and Gert relocated to his family’s farm outside Jacobsdal in the Free State. Here, Erina took over Gert’s role in his family’s logistics company and used her own business to manage the farming operations. Times however became tough for the family business, and in 2013 the couple decided to go on their own after Erina had identified a gap in the market for an intermediary between traders and transporters. By August 2013, the logistics business had a turnover of R 16 million.

In December 2014, the couple decided to change the trading name of their business to GEL (Gert Erina Logistiek) Supply Chain, and within just seven months of operating under the new brand, the successful entrepreneurial duo started another four businesses GEL Import and Export in South Africa, Gel Freddy’s in the Democratic Republic of Congo, GEL Investments in Namibia and M3T2 in Rotterdam. The mother company, GEL Supply Chain, remains as successful as ever, and the ever-adventurous entrepreneurs are also gearing up to open their first coffee shop in Gobabis in Namibia by August of 2016.

Erina attribute’s her business’ good fortune to hard work, perseverance and her personal faith which she holds dear. “Our big break came in 2013 when a co-op in East Free State approached GEL Supply Chain to move a large quantity of grain. We were given eight weeks to complete the project, yet we handed over the final load in just six weeks,” recalls Erina.

“Last year, we were awarded a contract to transport 500 tons of imported maize into South Africa – by December, we had transported 8 900 tons in 67 hours. So far this year, we have already transported more than 10 000 tons of imported maize.”

Erina has big dreams for the future and is confident of achieving them. She aims to expand into Europe and the Americas in the export sector and also aims to contribute to society by partnering with various feeding schemes across rural Africa. On the logistics front, GEL Supply Chain’s next goal is to manage an entire 30 000 ton shipment of maize, and to become the leader in their field.

Commenting on the team of good people she keeps around her, in both a personal and professional space, including her teams of staff, Erina urges like-minded entrepreneurs to never fail to lead their teams: “When leading others, lead not to have followers but lead to have more leaders growing from your example.”

Her parting advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to continuously work hard and believe in yourself.


2 comments

  1. Ettienne
    5 June 2016 at 3:10 pm

    Aangaande! My agtergrond. Was vir 35 jaar in die staal bedryf as boilermaker in die myn by Impala myn en waar ek gebord is vir ondergrond se diensste Toe besluuit ek om my eie trok tekoop omdat ek maar in die transport bedryf groot geraak het ongelukig vir my verloor ek alles en moet ek weer uitspring om aan die lewe te bly. Ek is nou twee jaar by Christo’s transport en van tevore het ek ook twee jaar vir ‘n ander ou hier in Andycourt naby Springs crossborder gery Angola die meesste (rede van my bedanke die trok waarme ek gery het het hy verkoop) toe begin ek by Christo’s. Transport en hulle ry by Omnia kunsmis. Maar dit is net seisoen gebonde (en my rede waarom ek graag van die werk wil verander is om dat ek sien dat die maatskappy besig is om finansioeel agter uit te gaan) ek is nou wel 59 jaar oud maar sien nou kans vir baie toe ek op die berig van julle af kom weet ek somer dat huis my geleendheid is en daarom vra ek of ek vir julle kan kom bestuur as ‘n vragmotorbestuurder Code 14 en het ook nog ‘n geldig Dangerous Goods. Sertefikaat. Wat in April volgende jaar veval. My pasport is nog op datem en het twee om Angola tery want my Christo’s transport ry ek ook crossborder en Afrika ken ek redelike baie goed. Na skrif ……………… Ek bly is Springs in ‘n aftree oord het my eie vervoer maar nie reg op die oomlik nie kort aandag en my geld sakke is ook maar beroerd as gevolg van die min vragte wat ek by Christo’s transport kry want ek kry net 10% van die vrag se geld nie dat ek kla nie maar sal graag vir meer wil gaan en ‘n grooter geleendheid om die laaste paar jaar wat ek nog kan om agter ‘n wiel tekan wees ook om nog iets bymekaar tekan kry vir die ou dag. BVD Ettienne Prinsloo.

    Reply
  2. Marilize Delport
    15 May 2016 at 2:14 pm

    I’ve known Erina all my life. For sure she is a believer of integrity and always has other people’s interests at heart. I wish her all the best in what ever she does.

    Reply

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