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Giv­ing jobs to ru­ral youth trans­formed Ul­wazi Devel­op­ment Pro­jects into a com­pany that started off em­ploy­ing nine peo­ple in 2006 to em­ploy­ing more than 1 600 to­day, writes Kalay Chetty

CityPress - - Busi­ness -

When Bon­gani and Cindy Mabizela set up civil en­gi­neer­ing con­sult­ing firm Ul­wazi Devel­op­ment Pro­jects in 2006, they oc­cu­pied a small of­fice in the west wing of a big build­ing, and had three per­ma­nent and six con­tract em­ploy­ees.

To­day, they own more than seven busi­nesses, oc­cupy the en­tire build­ing, em­ploy more than 1 600 peo­ple per­ma­nently and 249 on a tem­po­rary ba­sis. They record an an­nual turnover of R115 mil­lion.

The cou­ple op­er­ate in seven South African prov­inces and re­cently opened an in­ter­na­tional of­fice in Lubum­bashi in the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo.

Such phe­nom­e­nal growth is im­pres­sive, es­pe­cially in a coun­try that has ex­pe­ri­enced slug­gish eco­nomic growth over the same pe­riod.

How­ever, it is the com­pany’s unique and sus­tain­able busi­ness model of con­tribut­ing to skills de­vel­op­ment and job cre­ation that has helped make Ul­wazi Group a suc­cess.

Through its flag­ship cor­po­rate so­cial in­vest­ment pro­gramme, the Ul­wazi Ham­mars­dale fes­ti­val, the win­ners of the Mr and Miss Ul­wazi Ham­mars­dale pageant ti­tles re­ceive a R100 000 bur­sary each and an in­tern­ship at Ul­wazi Group.

The first re­cip­i­ent of the Miss ti­tle in 2013 was Ba­fungile Sogiba, who is work­ing as an in­tern at the com­pany.

“Win­ning Miss Ham­mars­dale has made a huge dif­fer­ence in my life. I was able to help with the dis­tri­bu­tion of food parcels to the com­mu­nity in Ham­mars­dale. With the bur­sary, I was able to pay my out­stand­ing fees and com­plete my hon­ours.

“Win­ning Miss Ham­mars­dale also helped me land my first job, gave me an op­por­tu­nity to gain ex­pe­ri­ence and an­other op­por­tu­nity to work for the com­pany that spon­sored me,” she ex­plained.

As a grad­u­ate trainee ten­der ad­min­is­tra­tor, Sogiba said the skills she had learnt over the past five months in the role were use­ful in the work­place and in daily life.

“It’s very im­por­tant to plan and or­gan­ise your life. I have now learnt how to pri­ori­tise ac­cord­ingly,” she said.

Her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in the role in­clude look­ing for ten­der op­por­tu­ni­ties and sub­mit­ting ten­der pro­pos­als.

“As a ten­der ad­min­is­tra­tor, you need to be dead­line driven, pay at­ten­tion to de­tail, be able to work un­der pres­sure, be a team player, plan and or­gan­ise.

“I have learnt all these skills and I have also learnt the im­por­tance of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

“Ul­wazi Group is a fam­ily; the cul­ture of

giv­ing is a norm. I do not feel like an em­ployee, but like a child at home.”

The 23-year-old was born in the small town of eNt­sizwa near Mount Ayliff in the Eastern Cape and was raised by her mother. Sogiba said one of her big­gest goals was to make her mother proud.

“I want to be an ex­am­ple to girls, share val­ues with them about the im­por­tance of stay­ing in school and the im­por­tance of learn­ing in­de­pen­dence at a young age.

“I be­lieve that ev­ery young girl should strive for in­de­pen­dence and hu­mil­ity,” she added.

Sogiba, who holds an hon­ours de­gree in sup­ply chain man­age­ment, would like to fur­ther her ca­reer in this dis­ci­pline.

“I would like to ex­plore the dif­fer­ent el­e­ments of the sup­ply chain, op­er­a­tions and pro­cure­ment, par­tic­u­larly in the FMCG [fast-mov­ing con­sumer goods] in­dus­try. I would also like to join an NGO.”

GAIN­FUL EM­PLOY­MENT Bon­gani and Cindy Mabizela

in their new of­fices

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