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UMK ABC Labs

ABC Laboratories: A Sample of Business Growth

In the heart of Kuruman, in the Northern Cape, ABC Laboratories provides a much-needed service to the district’s burgeoning mining industry. Headed by the charismatic Dudu Kgware, this facility is testament to her perseverance and innovation, although Kgware also appreciates  the substantial support that she has received from United Manganese of Kalahari’s (UMK’s) Enterprise Development Programme.

ABC Laboratories specialises in various forms of testing, providing services to diverse sectors. “We test mine soil and water, and also undertake chemical and bacteriological analysis,” Kgware explained, adding that, “Recently, we’ve expanded to agricultural soil testing.”

Kgware’s impressive background laid a strong foundation for ABC Laboratories. “I studied analytical chemistry at Cape Peninsula University of Technology and later obtained a master’s degree in management and technology,” she said. Her career trajectory took her from marine chemistry at the CSIR in Stellenbosch to a pivotal role at a mining house. But it was during her tenure at UMK that the seed of ABC Laboratories was sown. “There was no laboratory at the mine, and I was given the opportunity to set one up,” Kgware recounted. This experience highlighted a significant gap in local testing facilities, and she recognised the opportunity, which led to her establishing ABC Laboratories in 2010.

“Most of the new mines had to send their samples to Johannesburg, which caused delays and drove costs up,” Kgware noted. The establishment, therefore, of ABC Laboratories, brought a much-needed convenience and efficiency to this process, enabling local mines, municipalities, farmers, and households, to access essential testing services without having to deal with the logistical hurdles of the past.

The critical boost for ABC Laboratories would arrive, however, with the support of UMK’s Enterprise Development Programme: “In 2019, I applied for UMK’s programme, whose aim it is to assist small businesses within this community,” Kgware stated. Her successful application saw to ABC Laboratories being provided with the necessary resources to expand its services. “Given that we now had the necessary equipment, the municipality awarded us the opportunity to expand into water analysis as well.”

The growth of ABC Laboratories has also had an impact beyond its own doors; as it has fostered community development, because of its job creation. “We started with only three employees, but now have about five interns and several qualified scientists,” Kgware enthused. The laboratory currently employs graduates with advanced degrees in microbiology, analytical chemistry, and geology, providing them with opportunities to work with sophisticated equipment, and engage in meaningful research.

As ABC Laboratories continues its growth trajectory, Kgware envisions further expansion. “Our plan is to set up a satellite laboratory at the ports where the mines stockpile their products for shipment to other markets,” she explained. She also plans to eventually have representation in markets outside South Africa.

With the support of UMK and a clear vision for the future, Kgware remains optimistic. Her mantra: “Up and forward we go!”

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