SIYASANGA NGCONGCA: A BRAVE DECISION TO CONTINUE A LEGACY
CAPE TOWN-born entrepreneur Siyasanga Ngcongca has had to jump into the deep end in order to run her late father’s building consulting business following his death in 2013.
“I did not have a wealth of business knowledge, but I had to dive straight into the business, in a male-dominated industry, because I had to think about the future of my family as well as the employees,” says Ngcongca.
The family business, based in Mowbray, was established by her late father, Lamla Ngcongca, in 1993. It offers services ranging from claims regarding fires to storms and floods, break-ins to building maintenance.
She is now the director of Ngcongca Building Consulting, a service provider for insurance companies regarding their nonmotor, building and commercial claims. At the time of her father’s death, she was about to graduate as an internal auditor and had just started her junior account position.
She says since most of the employees had been working for the company since it was established in 1993, she had to weigh her options of whether she should continue with becoming an internal auditor or let the lights go off for the family.
“I didn’t even know what the consequences of that would be. So I took a brave decision.”
However, her father had taught her the business from an early age.
When she was younger, Ngcongca had to balance her life between going to school, her dad’s work and household chores.
“So they (the staff) got used to me over the years, because I had done this from a young age. You know how God works. I didn’t even have a clue that one day I would want to take over the business,” she said.
Ngcongca added that for the next two years after taking over the running of the business she had faced very challenging times managing money, having come from earning a salary of about R8 500 month to now controlling a large amount of money.
She said that at school and university she was never taught how to manage money, or what financial guidance was all about.
“So I struggled the first few years. I realised that the business was not going to make it if you only rely on one income coming in.” She realised she needed to seek more clients and knock on other doors.
“I knocked on doors in 2014, 2015, 2016 and nobody opened. It was only in 2017 that I started getting a turn-around in the business,” she said.
Ngcongca added that besides having Nedgroup Insurance as a client, she then took on board clients such as Santam, Absa and Bryte Insurance.
Ngcongca adopted a hands-on approach when it came to learning about the business.
She recalls trying to understand the process of a fire claim and following the inspector up on to the roof.
“I am such a stubborn person and I wanted to learn. A guy said while I was climbing on the roof: ‘No, Siya, you don’t have to see what’s happening there.’ But I got on to the roof and five minutes later I was on the ground after falling off a 2.8m high roof. But that did not get me down.
“Because of being a woman, I said to myself, oh my gosh, I’m falling in front of these guys, I can’t cry. I then had to act like a tough cookie and say: ‘No, guys, I’m completely fine.’ ”
She says it has been an incredible journey.
When people ask her if she feels the pressure of being in a maledominated industry, Ngcongca says no, because she won’t let the pressure get to her.
Ngcongca says she currently employs 14 people and plans to employ up to 35 by 2020 as she intends to grow the business further and expand under corporate building maintenance.
Her goals include saving capital to buy dehumidifying machines to be used across a number of jobs, which will allow her to employ 15 additional people, which she hopes to achieve within the next 18 months.
SIYASANGA Ngcongca. Managing money was her biggest challenge.| Supplied