My goal was to establish myself as a serious player in an industry that does not have a lot of black businesses, let alone black-women owned businesses.
Owner: Rachael Gaffane
Business: Danchi Group
Sector: Steel Manufacturing
Product: Expansion Finance (Working Capital)
Meet Rachael Gaffane, owner of the Danchi Group, a steel manufacturing business in Tshwane.
Racheal Gaffane has always had an eye for opportunity. As a primary school pupil in Mamelodi, Tshwane, she sold sweets to her fellow schoolmates, and that continued through high school, where she even dabbled in money lending, landing her in hot water a couple of times.
Today Gaffane owns and runs Danchi Group, a steel manufacturing business that employs thirteen (13) people in Silvertondale in the East of Pretoria. The Danchi Group manufactures steel components for the automotive and rail transport industries, including bushings, spacers, pins, pivots, and steel fabricated products such as columns, scaffolding, sheeting, conveyor structures and shafts. The company also refurbishes steel components for its clients in the various industries it supports.
“My first job was as an Office assistant in a beauty business, and it did not take long for me to learn about the beauty sector, after which I started the first mobile beauty business in Mamelodi, employing six people. However, even though the business started well, the business eventually failed and taught me a lot about pitfalls in business,” says Gaffane.
After that experience, Gaffane decided to go back to the corporate world. “I did very well in the corporate sector, but I always longed for more. It was the entrepreneurial bug that always got the best of me as I continued to sell an assortment of products from the boot of my car as a “side hustle”.
In 2017, she decided to restart her entrepreneurial journey in an entirely new sector, construction. “I started my company by pitching a crazy idea to an established company my father worked for: “renting a desk and reselling their products”.
My sales and cold calling skills were crucial in helping me convince the business to rent me the space and assured them that I could sell their products. My goal was to establish myself as a serious player in an industry that does not have a lot of black businesses, let alone black-women owned businesses,” recalls Gaffane. Through her tenacity, she was able to use this humble start as a springboard to establish relationships with industry giants such as Komatsu, Timken, Aveng Trident Steel, Kaefer and grow her company.
Though she made strides in the sector, the business was still confronted with many challenges, including shrinking margins and slowing revenue. In 2020, Gaffane sought to reposition the group from constructing steel products to steel components manufacturing. This change required significant capital investment of machinery and equipment. “The onset of COVID-19 worsened the difficulties in the construction sector, and I was convinced that the company required a change of direction not only to survive but to grow,” says Gaffane.
The Gauteng Enterprise Propeller came on board to assist the company in its quest for growth by providing funding for working capital. “In the past year, we invested a lot in equipment, and the support from GEP will help us operationalize that investment, she stated. This was not the first the GEP has had come on board, in 2017, as she was starting up, the GEP helped her company with marketing material, a laptop and a printer.
Gaffane has a passion for the industry and artisans that are its backbone. “My father was an artisan, and I saw firsthand how underappreciated he was even though his work was so pivotal, today he is part of our team here at Danchi, and we are making strides to create the best possible environment for artisans,” she explains. The support from GEP will help them to immediately create four more jobs, and in the future the plan is to expand to twenty-five jobs. Danchi has recently been crowned the winner of the 2021 Eskom Business Investment award, further proving that Gaffane’s goal to be a serious player in this sector is well on its course.