Updated: Nov 15, 2020
Portio Dlamini, the founder of Emakheni Cleaning & Industrial Solutions, has a passion for making a difference in people’s lives.
After graduating with a BTech in Chemical Engineering, Portio worked in the manufacturing industry for approximately ten years. She was a process technician at Sasol and Sappi and a production unit manager at Unilever.
Emakheni Cleaning & Industrial Solutions came about after Portio was exposed to cleaning contractors in the companies in which she was employed. “Often cleaners I encounter have poor morale. While I was working as a unit manager, I began to start empowering them through speaking about their future and their potential,” Portio explains.
“I started to feel dissatisfied with my career and to have a desire to have a business that would empower people beyond the cleaning industry.”
Establishing her own business was not easy and Portio had to face several challenges as well as fears. “One of the major challenges that I faced was a lack of understanding and skills in how to run a business. I was from an environment where I was an employee and technical.”
“The second challenge was that I had a lot of fears – stepping out of my comfort zone to go into a risky venture, including leaving a secure job. Another fear was providing services to the manufacturing sector, a male dominated field, which was one of the biggest challenges that I had to overcome as a businessperson.”
Portio reflected that her journey was enabled through the support of mentors, coaches and organisations. “Without support, I would not have made it in business because it has been a very intense journey. My life coach and mentor, Dr Basil Tryon, helped me to understand who I am, and my potential, as well helped me to deal with the fears that I had.”
Portio participated in the Raizcorp Entrepreneurship programme sponsored by Engen, and the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry ESD programme sponsored by Transnet. Currently, Portio is part of the Sekela Entrepreneurship programme sponsored by SA Home Loans.
“These have helped me a lot in terms of personal development and in understanding the fundamentals of business. All this has had a significant impact on ensuring that I build a sustainable business. I am grateful for that support.”
Emakheni is now seven years old – having started in 2013. “The first three years were very trying as the first contracts were for cleaning houses and we had some office contracts. Once we entered the manufacturing industry, we started to make progress, as we understood their language and the pain that they had, so doors started opening up.”
Portio’s background in chemical process engineering ensures that she understands what is required from a compliance point of view from industrial clients, which has strengthened the business’s position. In addition, Emakheni has been awarded ISO 9001 certification. The company’s services include cleaning, hygiene, gardening contacts and special projects.
In the industrial sector, Portio’s vision is to incorporate services such as high-pressure cleaning and waste management. The Covid pandemic has required higher levels of cleaning, which has provided Emakheni an opportunity for growth in respect of disinfection and sanitisation.
“We take care of our clients’ facilities so that they can focus on their core business. In the past four years we have done business mainly with the industrial sector for companies such as Unilever, Transnet, Cataler, Sentech. This year we have started to focus on office cleaning for the commercial sector.” Clients to whom this service is provided include SA Home Loans and Rawson.
“Our cleaners are well trained and highly empowered, and some have started to study part time. This has a major impact on the way that we service our clients. We make sure that our clients’ environments are clean and safe – continually,” concluded Portio.