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January 2001 saw Stella Kgalalelo Mokwena the founder and CEO of Staza Cleaning Services (PTY) Ltd resigning from her job as a banker.
At that stage she was responding to her desire to run her own business and a vision to contribute in building of the then “new South Africa”. Stella Mokwena was influenced by the training and skills acquired at her former employers Sceptre Engineering and Standard Bank where she worked as a “Girl Friday” and Head of Customer Service respectively.
With her passion for people and excellent service she had a dream to start and run a company that will develop people and deliver excellent customer service, creating happy experiences for everybody involved.
Once a university dropout herself, influenced by her own background, Stella realised that for various reason, life has a tendency to leave good people by the road side. She started thinking of all those “A” students that she went to school with, some of whom never really amounted to anything and wondered whether they would not be happy for someone to just give them a second chance in life. She started her entrepreneur journey determined to give someone a second chance and she has never lost that passion.
It was with this background that in year 2000 Stella looked at herself and agreed with herself that she had what it takes to start her own business and realise her dream. Equipped with a BCom Accounting and Business Management degree, various courses from banking including “excellent Customer Service” and experience from her previous employers, she felt ready to start and run her own company that will give people a second chance and give both clients and her workers happy experiences. This dream was propelled by her perception that the new dispensation provided a lot of opportunities that were taken by entrepreneurs who did not have nether skills nor passion of what they were doing
Stella started her entrepreneurial journey by joining another entrepreneur who pursued the idea of creating jobs for youth by selling sweets and other snacks inside corporate buildings. Stella‘s role in that venture was to recruit, train and manage those employees.
It did not take long for Stella to realise that the idea was easier said than done. She then thought, “If only I could get someone who is already in business, I am sure they would share with me ideas on how this could be done”. It was under these circumstances that she engaged with a friend, Solly Sebola, who was already running a cleaning business and asked him to mentor her. Although he was willing to mentor her, he did not think the idea of selling sweets in corporate buildings was a great one. However, he said to Stella, “When you have found a bigger idea, come back to me and I will mentor you”.
After giving it some thought, Stella realised that if she started a cleaning company she would have a mentor right away. By nature of the business, she would still realise her own dream of giving people a second chance and creating happy experiences through excellent customer service to her client. Needless to say, she jumped on the phone and called Solly Sebola, the mentor to tell him of her decision and also to ask what to do next. Solly told her to find a lawyer who could assist her to register the business and to contact him after the business has been registered.
"I will forever be grateful to you my friend, Solly Sebola"
With such a clear vision in the founder’s mind, it was easy to choose names which she believed would reflect the the purpose of the business. Amongst those names was "Staza", which stands for STArs in Zuid Afrika. The mission has always been very clear, we go out there and find Stars in the communities, train, motivate and develop them to create happy experiences for our clients.
Expose these people to the working world
Develop these individuals
Create happy experiences to all involved with Staza
We have an interesting story to tell...
The company was registered in June 2001, six months after the founder left her employment. This meant that she did not have many resources left. Equipped with a vision, supporting husband and a mentor, she started looking for business. The mentor gave a loan of R10 000 to Staza Cleaning Services that bought three chairs, a table and computer . The business was started in the founder’s study room at 276 Block L, Soshanguve. She was driven by her relationship with God and inspired by her motivational and business books.
Stella hit the ground running and took every opportunity to break into the market. She went and signed up at government printing works to receive the tender bulletin weekly via post and responded to every cleaning tender that was advertised. The mentor taught the founder how to fill-up two tenders, and told her that she must figure out the rest, as he was very busy in his own company. That proved to be a good teaching method, whatever she did not understand she had to ask the client representatives that were handling tenders.
Breaking into the market was very hard taking into consideration that the cleaning industry is saturated. However, attending site briefings created an opportunity to meet other business people and it helped with learning and sharing opportunities and resources. It is for that reason that Staza believes so much in strategic partnerships.
The company's first contract was from the bank where the founder used to work, which was a once-off carpet cleaning worth R350.00 around September 2001. Staza Cleaning Services rented a machine and got the instructions of how to use it. The cleaning team missed one or two instructions, blocked the machine with too much soap, phoned around and corrected themselves over night. A two-hour job turned into eight hours, thus our maiden contract resulted in a tired, experienced and fulfilled team.
The second job was a three-month contract of R6700 per month with City of Tshwane for cleaning at Medunsa Taxi Rank that started on the 1st December 2001. It went ok, with spades, rakes, forks and hard brooms – the only challenge was financing the contract. Family came handy with the founder’s brother lending her R3000 for the December salaries. In both of these jobs Stella Mokwena was on-site working with the team. It was during December 2001 while supervising at Medunsa that an unknown gentleman made Stella aware that Eskom was looking for women-owned companies to put into their database for future business transactions. The gentleman, Jack Godloza who was also going to register his company on the Eskom database invited her along. That created permanent business relationships with both Eskom and Jack Godloza that are still there up to today. The first long term contract that was awarded to Staza Cleaning Services started on 01 August 2002 with Eskom Mathimba for cleaning of single quarters. With an award letter on hand and no idea how to implement the contract, Stella consulted with a competitor on what to do next. Whilst discussing this at another site briefing the competitor advised her to go and speak to an unknown supplier, Goscor.
The Goscor manager opened an account for Staza Cleaning Services and loaded a truck with all that was needed for the Eskom contract. The Goscor manager went to train the employees that were already on site on how to use the equipment and the work started successfully. That saw the beginning of supplier partnership that has existed for nearly two decades. Based on this model is how Staza Cleaning Services continues to grow strong partnerships with it's suppliers.
Staza grew and added more clients to its book. The year 2003 was an exceptionally good year for Staza Cleaning Services, where clients like, PRASA, Department of Arts and Culture and other Eskom Generation sites were added. At that stage Staza added more people to our management team.
From 2006, the company started partnering with other service providers to help it diversify into other areas i.e. Landscaping, Industrial Cleaning, Hygiene, Pest Control and Facilities Management Services. These partnerships really helped Staza Cleaning Services to grow its turnover until 2010 when it seemed to have reached a glass ceiling.
2011 to 2013 Staza Cleaning Services (PTY) Ltd was struggling together with some of its biggest clients who were experiencing challenges. It was early 2011 when a decision was taken to involve an external strategic corporate governance company which supplied Staza with two independent directors to try and combat its challenges. A lot of learning came with that process and it helped the company to make tough decisions such as terminate unprofitable projects. That decision ended with the turnover of the company being sliced into half.
Thereafter, a turn around strategy was implemented in 2014 with the assistance of MMC Consulting, one of our strategic partners. Staza looked into every corner of the business, the leadership, the management, the strategy, the image, the employees, its choice of clients, operational systems etc. It then re-branded the business. In 2014 the business also appointed the Financial Director, Thato Ntuli, who is also a shareholder. The second phase brought in Oupa Sepeng, as an Executive Director in 2016 and Verina O’Connell, as a Non-Executive Director in 2017. During these phases new staff members were employed at management level, extensions to our offices were done, new colours, new logo, new clients, such as Barloworld, Afrisam and South 32 were acquired.
At the writing of this story 16 years later, Staza Cleaning Services is a new company altogether. After all the hard hurdles ,we have refocused on our vision of giving our employees a second chance by investing in their development with internal training and through the use of our external partners Siyaya Skills(Pty) Ltd and Hearings Pro (Pty) Ltd. We are proud to have positively impacted many lives over the years, but especially the current 500 employees of which majority are single bread winning mothers.
All said and done we thank God for his grace in this long journey.
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Please note: We do not provide private residence cleaning services