Fe­male brick maker ce­ments her fu­ture

Vuk'uzenzele - - General - Hlengiwe Ngob­ese

thANks to A loAN from a pro­vin­cial de­vel­op­ment agency, a KwaZulu-Natal woman is lay­ing solid foun­da­tions in the con­struc­tion in­dus­try.

thokozane MasikaneZondi knows a thing or two about build­ing. That the en­tre­pre­neur­ial brick maker has a foot in the door of the con­struc­tion in­dus­try be­came ev­i­dent in April when she won the R30 000 Mi­crobusi­ness of the Year prize at Ithala De­vel­op­ment Fi­nance Cor­po­ra­tion’s 2017 Busi­ness Achiever Awards.

Ithala is KwaZulu-Natal’s de­vel­op­ment fi­nance agency and the plat­form from which Masikane-Zondi was able to grow her busi­ness.

The 40-year-old Pi­eter­mar­itzburg woman grew up with lit­tle fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity which meant she was un­able to ac­quire a ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion. Af­ter school, she worked at Check­ers and vol­un­teered at the South African Po­lice Ser­vice. When this did not lead to a per­ma­nent post, she took a leap into the un­known and started man­u­fac­tur­ing con­struc­tion blocks.

Tiba T Trad­ing En­ter­prise was reg­is­tered in 2006. A few small projects came Masikane-Zondi’s way be­fore she got her break­through – a con­tract from Vulindlela De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion to sup­ply SABS qual­ity-ap­proved blocks for an RDP hous­ing project.

Help­ing in build­ing the busi­ness

The con­tract meant that pro­duc­tion had to be in­creased, which meant the com­pany needed fund­ing to buy more equip­ment. Af­ter be­ing turned down by com­mer­cial banks or of­fered un­com­pet­i­tive in­ter­est rates, she se­cured a R800 000 loan from Ithala.

Be­fore then, the com­pany could make only 800 blocks a day but to­day it pro­duces 19 000 a day. It em­ploys 10 peo­ple on a per­ma­nent ba­sis and nine ca­sual em­ploy­ees.

Masikane-Zondi at­tributes her busi­ness suc­cess to sheer hard work, re­silience and hav­ing a fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion that be­lieved in her. Her great­est rewards are be­ing able to help fam­i­lies earn a liv­ing from the jobs she has cre­ated and help­ing her com­mu­nity to build their dream homes.

Not fazed by the male-dom­i­nated con­struc­tion in­dus­try, she is surg­ing ahead to ful­fill her dream of land­ing largescale projects and branch­ing into trans­port and lo­gis­tics.

Ad­vice for en­trepreneurs

Masikane-Zondi’s ad­vice to as­pir­ing busi­ness peo­ple is to work hard.

“Be hands-on in your busi­ness. Start­ing a busi­ness is like rais­ing a baby – it needs you all the time.

“Do not use money for the busi­ness on your own needs. Busi­ness money is for busi­ness and your salary is for your needs. Once you take money from the busi­ness and use it on your own needs, the busi­ness suf­fo­cates,” she said.

She en­cour­aged all cur­rent and as­pir­ing KwaZulu-Natal en­trepreneurs look­ing for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to con­tact Ithala, es­pe­cially the youth and women.

Ithala’s pri­mary fo­cus is to in­crease the par­tic­i­pa­tion of black peo­ple in all sec­tors of the econ­omy.

It was in June de­clared a fi­nal­ist in the Vi­sion 2030 Awards in the In­dus­trial Ac­tion Plan Award cat­e­gory in recog­ni­tion of its con­tri­bu­tions to mov­ing the na­tion for­ward, as a leader in the sec­tor and as a pro­po­nent of the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan.

Thokozane Masikane-Zondi of Tiba T Trad­ing won the Mi­cro-busi­ness of the Year Award in 2017.

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