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Opportunity Issue 102

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Opportunity magazine is a niche business-to-business publication that explores various investment opportunities within Southern Africa’s economic sectors. The publication is endorsed by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI).

WOMEN IN BUSINESS

WOMEN IN BUSINESS Building a bright future Sebongi Construction has 179 employees. A female-owned construction company is moving into new sectors and building a strong reputation. Barely 12 years ago, Sanna Sebone was a newly-qualified quantity surveyor taking her first steps in the largely maledominated world of construction. Today, her 100% femaleowned construction company, Sebongi Construction, is rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Northern Cape. Sebone started the company in 2018 using her own funds, and the business has grown to the point where it provides jobs for 179 people. She aims to grow this even further as she pursues her vision of becoming a leading general building and civic works resource in the province, winning what she calls high-value projects. She won her first project in 2019 and has successfully completed many projects in the mining industry, roads and earthworks sectors since then. The company is currently partnering on a solar tower project in the region. But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Sebongi struggled to attract new clients in a highly competitive industry and while Sebone’s technical knowledge is strong, she admits she needed help with her financial management skills. That’s where the support of Anglo American’s enterprise development arm, Zimele, has been invaluable in helping her take her business to the next level. Zimele’s involvement has been a massive factor in her business’ development. “We received intensive training and support in financial management, marketing, and growth strategies. They have helped us improve our business management skills immeasurably, and set a blueprint for future growth,” says Sebone. The business experienced 187% growth in revenues during the nine-month training programme at a time when she was also juggling running a business and being a full-time Master’s student. Zimele, which means "Stand on your own" in Nguni languages, was established in 1989 to develop emerging black businesses, empower entrepreneurs and support SMMEs with the right tools, skills and networks to grow their businesses. Its model is constantly 34 | www.opportunityonline.co.za

WOMEN IN BUSINESS Credit: Unsplash Credit: Unsplash developing and improving as the landscape of SMME development in South Africa is complex, dynamic and very exciting, says Anglo American’s Head of Zimele, Larisha Naidoo. “We’re fiercely committed to stepping up the pace of change in the SME sectors in which we operate. Sebongi’s success is a great example of how entrepreneur development can drive sustainable local procurement activity – and more importantly, create a lasting impact through skills development, job creation, thriving businesses and more prosperous communities,” says Naidoo. Ultimately, says Sebone, Zimele’s intervention has opened her eyes to new opportunities she would never have thought possible. “With Zimele, I can grow the business into what I’ve always dreamed of.” Sanna Sebone, quantity surveyor and entrepreneur. ABOUT ZIMELE Zimele is about creating sustainability in business. It’s focused on building sustainable livelihoods in host communities and on strengthening relationships to create synergies within Anglo American and with broader mining industry partners. High levels of unemployment mean that providing funding is simply not enough any more, so a demand-led development programme was rolled out that mentors entrepreneurs with a focus on youth and supplier and enterprise development. Based on the needs of smaller businesses Zimele supports businesses in general business acumen, safety, innovation and technical capability. Access to funding is also provided as part of the service offering to enterprises from host communities. www.opportunityonline.co.za | 35

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