South Africa: Building Rolle Village One Brick At a Time

An initiative by the Mpumalanga provincial government to empower small businesses in the construction sector will see Shamila Trading Enterprises build Rolle village in Bushbuckridge one brick at a time.

Shamila Trading Enterprises - a brick production business - is one of 29 small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in Thulamahashe district, Mpumalanga, which were identified and selected for business development.

Through the provincial government's assistance and mentoring, Shamila Trading Enterprises was awarded product certification earlier this month by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) for its brick making products.

The programme was conceptualised and funded by the provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDT) and the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA).

SABS was the implementation partner that worked with the SMMEs to develop quality management systems, processes and guide the way towards product certification.

"The path towards achieving product certification has not been easy, however the benefits have been rewarding and has set us apart from other brick making companies. As a business owner you just want to get on with the business of getting contracts to supply bricks, however to really participate in economic opportunities you need product certification," said Shamila Trading Enterprises CEO and founder Shadow Nyathi.

The SABS certificate provides assurance to clients that products meet quality standards and that the required management systems are in place.

The company began making bricks commercially since 2011, but realised that it needed to significantly develop the business and meet quality standards, if it were to get lucrative contracts.

Thulamahashe was identified by provincial government as an area that required infrastructure and that construction resources should be sourced from local communities.

Shamila Trading Enterprises realised the potential and began to significantly invest in developing the business to meet the demand of developments in the area.

"We intend to increase our production and we have already seen a significant increase in clients requiring our services," said Nyathi.

Shamila has grown in the last two years from one employee making a few bricks for community use, to employing 56 employees currently.

The majority (41) of employees are residents of Rolle village.

"Rolle village is where I grew up, the premises of my business is where my grandmother lived and seeing Shamila flourish is a dream come true for me and my community.

"Job creation, the ability to learn skills and participate in the development opportunities in our neighbourhood provides tangible hope for my community for a brighter future," said Nyathi.

SABS Acting CEO Garth Strachan said partnerships with provincial governments and organisations like DEDT and MEGA prove to be successful in developing a sustainable local supplier base for quality products.

"Without the significant development of SMMEs, they will continue to remain on the side-lines of economic opportunities. Such partnerships moves beyond the development of SMMEs for development sake by creating real market participation opportunities, so that local businesses and the communities they serve begin to thrive," said Strachan.

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