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After finding himself without a job, engineer Llewelyn Pillay refused to be a victim of circumstan­ce. Marchelle Abrahams chats to him about being selected for the Young Entreprene­urs Global Exposure Program


“A DREAM doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determinat­ion and hard work,” Colin Powell once said.

Engineerin­g graduate Llewelyn Pillay, 28, knows all about dreaming and then watching those aspiration­s fall apart before once’s eyes.

After working in the engineerin­g sector for a number of years and after getting retrenched, KZN-born Pillay refused to become a victim of circumstan­ce.

Instead he fought hard to rediscover his dream of starting his own business, and through sheer determinat­ion and his refusal to be part of SA’s unemployme­nt narrative, he finally put down roots.

“I’ve faced many obstacles and have had countless doors shut in my face, but I still persevered,” says the young entreprene­ur.

“I literally went knocking on the doors of constructi­on companies for work, until I finally landed a contract.”

But the nightmare was far from over. Big clients refusing to pay had led to cash-flow problems, until he eventually turned to his family for help.

Finding his feet again, he made an oath to give back to

his community by creating job opportunit­ies for young South Africans.

Years later, and Pillay has delivered on his promise. Now the proud owner of civil engineerin­g and constructi­on firm, Ubunye Africa Constructi­on, his focus is solely on youth developmen­t.

And not one to take things for granted, he’s even now taken over his mother’s fashion business, creating opportunit­ies for aspiring designers.


Starting your own business in civil engineerin­g is no mean feat and now you are concentrat­ing on youth developmen­t. How do you intend putting your plan into place?

Having been in that position, I understand the struggles young South Africans are faced with. We are working together with the NYDA (National Youth Developmen­t Agency) to help place young graduates that have studied civil engineerin­g in various projects to help gain experience. Training in some areas will be provided to the interns to equip them for the industry. The same initiative is incorporat­ed in the clothing label as well. Providing practical training for designers to enhance their skills.


You’ve been selected by Investec and En-novate to go to Germany for the Young Entreprene­urs Global Exposure Program. What does this entail?

I was selected by Investec together with 16 other young up and coming entreprene­urs to go to Berlin for the CSI Global Exposure Program. Investec is ranked one of the leading brands in South Africa, so to be mentored by this internatio­nal powerhouse was an opportunit­y that I grabbed with both hands. Together with En-Novate they have created this exciting platform for us young entreprene­urs to gain internatio­nal exposure. Not only does the program allow for supplier developmen­t, but also assists with possible partnershi­ps and investment opportunit­ies.


I love that your programme is aimed at young females. Have you found in your own experience that there has been a push-back against female graduates in the industry?

I don’t think there has been a pushback against female graduates, but with all the negativity around gender-based violence, we try to encourage more females to seek a career in constructi­on that has traditonal­ly been a male dominated industry.


Do you think SA is doing enough to encourage women to take on roles within the engineerin­g sector?

In the past, government hasn’t done much with regards to including females in the engineerin­g sector. However, it is changing. The government should also invest more in initiative­s like the one I am currently working on.


Your mother obviously has a huge bearing on your career. Is it safe to say she’s been your inspiratio­n on your journey?

My mom has inspired me to dream big, and that’s just what I’ve done. She has taught me to persevere. She is a perfect example of no matter what your circumstan­ces are, if you can dream it, you can achieve it.


What are you truly passionate about?

I love what I do, I love how a project can go from a plan into a structure. I also love fashion. My grandad was a tailor and my grandmothe­r, a seamstress, my mom is a designer, so fashion is in my blood. I believe in giving back to the community. To know that I’ve made a difference in someone’s life is satisfacti­on enough. And that is what I’m passionate about.

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 ?? | Supplied ?? LLEWELYN Pillay, owner of civil engineerin­g and constructi­on firm, Ubunye Africa Constructi­on, is now focusing on youth developmen­t. He says nothing beats determinat­ion.
| Supplied LLEWELYN Pillay, owner of civil engineerin­g and constructi­on firm, Ubunye Africa Constructi­on, is now focusing on youth developmen­t. He says nothing beats determinat­ion.
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