Soweto petroleum entrepreneur gets global brand investment

Bridgette Radebe, J & L Motor Spares Founder, Morena Sithole, Castrol National Sales Manager, Thapelo Mokoena, SA Lubes and Lena Radebe in the retail kiosk that Castrol set up.

A Soweto mother’s pioneering vision has earned her the support of global lubricant giant Castrol, who has backed her endeavours by installing a first-of-its-kind retail kiosk to help her do better business.

The enterprising Bridgette Radebe, who took advantage of a gap in the market to supply oil to the local taxi industry from her home-based business, now has a formal base from which to upscale stock and improve the levels of service she offers to Bramfischerville, Johannesburg, Soouth Africa motorists.

The investment by Castrol is part of a drive to provide support and mentorship to independent workshops and oil retailers in townships across major cities in South Africa.

Castrol National Sales Manager, Morena Sithole, says the kiosk was designed especially for South Africa, in support of government’s plans to encourage small business development.

Sithole said the brand planned to extend its assistance to other local entrepreneurs to help them establish and grow their businesses and increase turnover and profits.

Castrol pledged ongoing support for Radebe who is in the process of mentoring four other individuals, to help them build up similar retail businesses in Naledi, Kagiso, Orange Farm and Katlehong.

“These communities face the same challenges as Bramfischerville, with aging private vehicles and taxis needing quality oils,” Sithole says.

“There is potential to make the small oil retail business a big success in townships, provided we have the right individuals who have a strong drive and understanding of the products.”

He said Radebe’s business was identified some time ago and through SA Lubes, Castrol’s distributor partner in the area, they had fostered a strong relationship with her.

“In the time we have known her, she has shown her commitment to providing the best products and service, which are values that are perfectly aligned to our own. Her inspiring journey and hard work have definitely shown that she is prepared to go the extra mile, which makes her a perfect fit for our entrepreneur development program.”

He said the team planned to provide ongoing support to ensure the businesses remained sustainable and were upscaled at the right pace to meet demand.

“We are looking to develop long term partners in these communities and our ultimate objective is to see Bridgette, and those who embark on similar projects, establish brick and mortar businesses which offer greater value and employment within their communities,” he said.

Radebe says Castrol’s investment came at exactly the right time. She has been running the business with her daughter for two years, and was ready to expand.

The kiosk will help her to further grow her business by providing a formal base and a platform from which to scale up the level of product and service that she offers.

“We have a growing customer base of mainly taxi operators who knock on our doors as early as 4am. This kiosk will ensure that we are always well stocked and ready to service them,” she says.

Thapelo Mokoena of SA Lubes, praised the Castrol initiative. He says it was great that the local entrepreneurs themselves spotted the gap in the market and started their own businesses.

“Consumers often have no choice but to use whatever was easily available to them, sometimes having to settle for inferior products.

“Bridgette has built her brand in this area and has a reputation for selling quality products. We have committed to ensure she has enough stock to keep her customers happy.”

Our Customer Service Belief

Our customer service belief

We make every customer interaction count, even the small ones. They are all relevant to us.

SA Lube is a proud supporter of the Little Eden Society, a registered non-profit organisation providing life-long care to 300 children and adults. Little Eden is a registered non-profit organisation and PBO providing life-long care to 300 children and adults with profound intellectual disability in two custom designed residential facilities – Domitilla and Danny Hyams Home in Edenvale, and Elvira Rota Village, in Bapsfontein.