Based in the heart of Johannesburg, KGK Diamonds SA buys rough diamonds, which it cuts and polishes to sell locally and abroad.
Keeping up with technology in the diamond industry is crucial, says Gaurav Singhvi, the company’s chief financial officer. Fortunately, the business has been able to expand thanks to its investment in a high-tech machine, which it was able to buy with the help of MCEP.
The purchase of the Galaxy Galatea machine has transformed production at KGK Diamonds, encouraging further investment in new technologies and also expansion of the business.
A persistent problem in the diamond industry is a lack of skilled labour, says Singhvi. However, the new machine has enabled the company to increase production and train local staff.
“First, new machinery means new technology to the company, and new technology means that employees get more skills. Second, it helps to increase the production. For example, if you have more technology, you can use and increase the production by 10% to 15% more in the same capacity.”
The MCEP grant means 30% of the cost of new machinery is given back.
“They reimburse you within six months, which means you can allocate for the new machinery and for the expansion of workers, so it can increase employment for the local staff.”
Singhvi says the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) are really making a difference by helping companies like KGK invest in new technology.
“New, updated technology is the key for any part of the economy to develop, any of the industries to grow at a faster rate, and for more employment.”
With the prospect of further funding, the company has high hopes for expansion into the future, and wants its employment to increase radically as a result of the investment in technology.
“We want our employment strength to grow, and we want to train them. We want to make them skilled and we want that Johannesburg should become the diamond hub of cut and polish,” says Singhvi.
General manager David Cohen says the increase in productivity is phenomenal in terms of processing stones.
Also, the accuracy of the machine cannot be faulted, leaving little room for human error, which minimises the stress of running the business.
Empowerment through knowledge
Employee Kolani Dlamini says he has learnt so much, as the company focuses on empowering its workers with knowledge.
“Working in this industry is great because at first I didn’t know anything about diamond polishing, but now I know a lot. Since I’ve been working here, I’ve been trained a lot and acquired great skills.”
Cecelia Martin joined the company in 2015 and, like Dlamini, says she has really upgraded her skills. “Life has improved for me and my family. Since I am working here, I’ve learnt lots of skills, and I’ve been perfectly trained.”
The real gems in the industry are the investment in human capital and employing and training local people, says Singhvi.
“If we can train more people, we can give more employment to this region, and we will if we get support from the government. It will be a great thing, which will help us to push employment in South Africa, and it will give more skills to them. It could become one of the biggest hubs of cutting and polishing diamonds.”