South Africa is a country where gender and business stereotypes are rapidly disappearing. Although it still comes as a surprise that one of the nation’s leading social housing developers with more than 75 000 units to its credit is owned, managed and run by a woman.
In fact, Motheo Construction has been breaking down stereotypes since opening its doors for business in 1997 under the leadership of Dr Thandi Ndlovu, a medical doctor who has seen the company complete projects valued at more than R5.5 billion.
With headquarters in Randburg and offices in Durban, Kimberley, East London and Johannesburg, Motheo has successfully completed building projects anywhere in the country where their skills have been required.
Clues of how a doctor, once schooled in Soweto, ends up running a successful construction company lie in Dr Ndlovu’s background. She is a woman of strong convictions who, when committed to a course of action, cannot be easily swayed.
While studying and acting as Secretary of the Student’s Representative Council at the University of Fort Hare in 1976, she was forced to abandon her BSc, because of the oppression that followed the Soweto student’s uprising. Her brother, Hastings, fell victim to shots fired at the students on 16 June 1976 – the same day that Hector Pieterson, a symbol of the revolt, died from the violent action.
Dr Ndlovu spent the next few years actively fighting apartheid as part of the ANC’s MK military wing, moving into exile in Angola. She undertook several tasks, including that of running literacy and education programmes, and assisting as a medical officer before moving to the USSR. Later, she moved on to Lusaka in Zambia, where she enrolled at the University of Zambia in 1984 and completed her BSc (Human Biology) and MBchB degrees, finally realising her medical ambitions.
After the regime change, she returned to South Africa and identified a need in Orange Farm informal settlement, where she set up shop as the only doctor assisting a population of about 200 000 people. And there she could have remained, living out what she describes as “her life’s work”, and educating people on the benefits of preventative and community medicine.
The event that changed the direction of her life came when she began working with local health committees, pushing for improved housing to replace the shacks that exacerbated the health problems in the area. Dr Ndlovu’s first challenge was to find suitable premises for her medical practice.
“I found a half-built shack and began working with some men to replace it with properly built medical rooms from which I could treat people,” she recalls.
She learned a lot about building, but saw her investment rewarded as patients came from other townships to consult and admired her building and facilities.
“I read about a former MD of Premier Milling who was introducing the art of brickmaking to rural communities. After seeing what he was doing, I got excited and phoned government to find out how I could get involved in building houses for the people. Eventually, I received six large files on the processes and rules to be followed to build homes.”
Not knowing the meaning of “impossible”, Dr Ndlovu drove to Pietermaritzburg to meet with a builder, and by the end of a weekend session she knew that what they wanted could be done.
“If you could persuade a professional team to work at their own risk, it was possible to get the drawings and engineering services planned and approved. Then government would provide a subsidy that could finance the required project, and that was the birth of Motheo Construction.
“We began to target chiefs in rural areas of Mpumalanga who could give permission for building. I realised that we needed people of vision to assist us, so I contacted Matthews Phosa, Premier of Mpumalanga, who arranged for us to do presentations. The chiefs were fascinated by our model for building 1 000 units, as we did not only concentrate on building, but used the activity as an opportunity to train and develop people.
“We proposed coming in with a competent professional team to train people in these areas to build houses within the subsidy guidelines. Once we left, they would have the skills necessary to add rooms and improve the houses as needed.”
Phosa responded by asking her to build 10 000 houses. Political pressure and suspicion about Motheo’s model led to auditors being brought in. After a full audit, and three years later than scheduled, Motheo began their work. The medical practice in Orange Farm was sold to another doctor, and Dr Ndlovu began structuring Motheo for the future.
The result is an enterprise where women own 52% of the equity and work in the business on a daily basis. They also represent professionals ranging from quantity surveying, project management, and water and civil engineering disciplines.
“Like their male colleagues, Motheo’s women work on site in both rural and urban environments. The success of our empowerment initiatives can be measured in the achievement of the 20 Motheo Trust beneficiaries who progressed from newly qualified, inexperienced individuals to full members of Motheo. Today they manage projects and departments within the business.”
The agenda to develop and empower those with talent is undertaken by the Dr Thandi Ndlovu Children’s Foundation, which currently supports 20 orphaned and vulnerable children through their schooling and tertiary education. The Foundation covers education fees, accommodation, meals and provides the support that the children would normally have obtained from parents.
The career paths chosen by the children are as diverse as their backgrounds; they are pursuing professions as chartered accountants, musicians, chemical engineers and agricultural economists.
The development of small- to medium-sized enterprises is another passion that is served by Motheo, assisting identified companies with bridging finance, technical skills and guarantee facilities so they can undertake projects on their own account.
Going into the future with a full order book, Dr Ndlovu’s company is benefitting from her belief in investing in people and expanding their skills. Although Motheo’s activities still centre around housing, about a third of the projects they have successfully completed involve building facilities that range from the R60 million Orlando station in Soweto, rail refurbishment projects valued at R100 million to a R35 million administrative building for the eThekwini municipality.
Dr Ndlovu herself goes into the future with strong views about strengthening her own company: “This is a truly South African company. It is built on a model where everybody works together for its benefit. We are still true to our original model. We send in the professionals and work with young people to carry things forward and leave skills behind.
“Motheo believes that there is room for everybody to benefit and grow in our country,” she says.
Dr Thandi talks more on how Motheo Construction came about – watch the below video.
Visit the Standard Bank Community page more on Dr Ndlovu’s inspirational story.
How Your Devices Can Improve Your Business Travel
Dawn Weir, head of kulula work and a veteran business traveller, offers these tech-savvy tips for road-warriors.
Technology has made business communication and business travel easier than ever, but it’s still possible to have a minor disaster involving your indispensable devices. Dawn Weir, head of kulula work and a veteran business traveller, offers these tech-savvy tips for road-warriors.
Stay on track
Activity trackers can help you stick to your fitness regime by recording step-counts, distances covered, sleep and nutrition. If you don’t fancy wearing one that looks like it’s from the flight-deck of the starship USS Enterprise, others are available which clip onto your ankle or clothing. Many are water-resistant and rugged, but if you prefer to not buy-one, apps like Samsung Health will record and analyse your daily activity.
A few bad nights’ sleep while travelling can leave one feeling unfocused and tetchy. Some of us sleep better in hotel-rooms than others, and some can be downright noisy. You can try using earbuds, but we don’t all like having wads of foam stuck into our skulls when trying to slip into the arms of Morpheus. One alternative is to load a white-noise generator on one of your devices. A site like www.mynoise.net has hundreds of soothing sounds, including waves, rain, crackling fireplaces, trickling streams and even Tibetan monasteries.
It might not drown out the sound of the guys returning to the hotel from their “team-building dinner” at 2am, but it’ll help to smooth out the noise of traffic and air-conditioning.
Cancel the chatter and clatter
Many business-travellers now swear by noise-cancelling headphones, which block out distractions and racket and can subtly let fellow travelers know that you’d prefer to not engage in lively conversation. Researchers disagree on the effectiveness of binaural beats for everything from creativity to concentration, but many students, academics and entrepreneurs find that they help with focus the mind.
Most mobile devices have decent battery-life nowadays, but the size and brightness of their screens and the plethora of apps running on them can drain that very quickly. Save your battery by switching off anything you don’t need: BlueTooth, location, mobile data and so on, as well as apps you’re not using. Switching your phone to Flight mode will also save battery power. Travellers increasingly user power-banks to boost battery-life, but Weir suggests reading users’ product reviews before buying one, as some are far more efficient than others.
Back up and go
Save your important documents – scans of your passport if you’re travelling internationally – as well as hotel reservations and travel itineraries, and take pictures and screenshots of them on your phone. That all-important PowerPoint presentation? Use a file-hosting service like Dropbox to put it in the cloud so you can access it wherever you need to.
If you’re a regular business traveller make a point of emptying all your luggage every few weeks. You’ll probably find you’ve accumulated flash-drives, USB adaptors and stationery and other stuff that takes up space and adds weight.
Everyone from business travelers to backpackers loves the portability of laptops, but while they’re lighter than ever, those with bigger screens can be bulky. One option is to travel with a tablet, which offers the efficiency of a laptop while taking up less space. If you need to do a lot of inputting while you’re on the road, get a flexible keyboard that can be rolled up until need, or pair your tablet or smartphone with a laser projection keyboard. It’s a clever gizmo that projects a full-sized QWERTY keyboard onto any flat surface, allowing you to type pretty much anywhere.
We’ve all seen the infographics showing how smartphones combine all the devices we once owned separately, like cameras, DVD- and CD-players, and that innovation continues. The Belkin Travel Rockstar combines a battery pack, surge protector and charger. It has three plug-ports (you may need an adaptor, depending on which plug configuration you use) and two USB ports.
Still not high-tech enough? Try Pluggage, a smart suitcase produced by luggage brand www.delsey.com that has its own app. It’s available in three sizes and its features include fingerprint ID to lock and unlock it (you can also lock and unlock it using the app), interior lighting and speakers. It weighs itself, has integrated USB chargers for your devices, and GPS tracking notifies you when it’s on a luggage carousel at the airport or being loaded onto or off a flight.
Technology In Accounting – Race For Relevance
Change is not just coming, it’s already here and the rate of change is growing exponentially.
Change is not just coming, it’s already here and the rate of change is growing exponentially. The recent research from ACCA around the race for relevance talks of six key technologies (Analytics, Artificial intelligence, Cloud computing, Cyber, Social and Robotic process automation), likely to present opportunities that challenge our traditional ways of working to all businesses, including SMEs – as well as their finance function.
The report explains that whatever the size of the business, technology change is having an impact.
It is imperative for SMEs to understand these technologies and start to, at least, plan. Failure to capture opportunities runs the risk of businesses being marginalised.
Technological advances provide finance functions with significant opportunities to play a valued role in maximising the organisation’s strategic ambitions and in how it is evolving. Not of all the key technologies may be relevant to all immediately, however, understanding which of them apply and can deliver value, is important.
In this corporate race for future relevance, recognising the opportunity is essential. Organisations are in a race to remain relevant to their customers and communities. Adapting and embracing technological changes in business is critical. Companies who leverage new technology well are going to win big in business. If CFO’s are to remain in decision making roles the need to understand the importance of data analytics is crucial. Businesses need forward thinking CFO’s who:
- understand how to use the information available to them to provide strategic insight in real time;
- capture, measure, report and predict future performance in a much more agile manner to support better and quicker decision making;
- ensure they have in place effective and efficient processes that satisfy the overall business requirements of finance.
This is not to say that there is one approach. No single model fits all finance teams but there is an overall direction of travel. However, its not enough to become more efficient, but finance function must assist businesses to make decisions based on the right data. To achieve the goal of transforming the finance function, the CFO needs an understanding of the emerging technologies and the opportunities available. The CFO must ensure that there is sufficient governance of the data sources, be these internal or externally generated, to provide insights based upon ‘one version of the truth’.
In realising the finance technology strategy, it should be remembered that this is often a partnership between the Information Technology (IT) team and the finance function. As business partnering has affected the relationship between finance and its customers so the same process can be replicated in the relationship between finance and IT.
By 2020, organisations are expected to gain $1.2 trillion in business from their slower-to-adapt peers. How do you, as the accounting professional, influence this today? How do you work with IT to thrive in this age of change?
Register A Company In South Africa
With over 120 Start-up Services, Company Partners is the perfect Partner for Company, Tender and Contract compliance.
Company Partners is the leading Company Registration Service Provider in South Africa, offering a One-Stop-Shop for all the Company Registration and Tender Compliance Documents.
With over 120 Start-up Services, Company Partners is the perfect Partner for Company, Tender and Contract compliance.
Established in 2006, Company Partners guarantees that the services they offer meet the standards of the best in the industry. Over 30 full-time Consultants offer services and standards of the highest quality.
Company Registration Benefits
Your Company Structure is the first consideration you need to make when you want to register a new Company at the CIPC. The preferred choice of a legal entity for most Businesses is a Pty Company.
- You protect your personal life and assets from your business when you register a company. If one runs a business, it is necessary to operate in a safe legal structure where your business assets and risks are separated from your personal ones.
- You look more professional when you operate under a registered company name. If you want to obtain a large contract or a tender, it appears more professional to trade in a Pty Company capacity than in your own name.
- Most Suppliers and Government Departments require businesses to be registered as a Company to apply for their Tenders and Contracts.
How to Register a Company
Step 1: Complete and submit the easy online sign-up form here.
Step 2: Your dedicated Consultant will call you to assist you with any questions you may have.
Step 3: Email your ID and easy supported documents – which your Consultant will explain.
Step 4: Within a few days you will receive your brand new Company ready to use for Tenders and Contracts, via email. You can contact your Consultant at any time on a toll-free number.
Need a Company fast? Perhaps consider a Shelf Company
Company Partners offer a variety of Shelf Company Options to suit your needs, including 2016- year Registration Number Shelf Companies. Within 24 hours after purchase, you will receive the registered Shelf Company.
You can start using your Company Registration Number and Bank Account (for income) immediately.
Each Shelf Company includes a 2016 Year Registration Number, Free Share Certificates, a Free ‘Tax Number’ and a Free ‘Official BEE Affidavit’.
You can also make use of a Nedbank Business Bank Account that’s active for your Shelf Company.
Luckily, getting your own Shelf Company is easy in terms of compliance. All that’s required is that you are at least 18 years of age, an ID document / Passport and a South African Business Address.
Why use Company Partners to Register a Company?
Fast timeframes: Your Company will be registered fast and effectively online. Your documentation is set-up in less than 24 hours, after which CIPC will process it.
Simple requirements: The only requirement for Company Registration is an ID / Passport. Everything gets done online, so you can be based anywhere in South Africa or the World.
Dedicated Consultant: Your own dedicated professional Consultant takes care of the entire process – he or she is available on his / her email and also on a toll-free number.
Professional Service: With years of experience of representing our Clients in Government, the entire process runs smoothly over the Internet. No lost documents and no frustration.
Company Partners completes all necessary applications correctly and reviews all the paperwork for you. You simply have to wait for your company documents via e-mail, confirming when you may start trading using your registration detail.
After Company Registration
Any new Business needs guidance to prepare for Tenders and Contracts. After Company Partners gets you registered for your Company, Company Partners can assist you through the entire Company start-up process (optional).
That means they will ensure you have everything you need for a Tender or Contract application like a new PTY Company, BEE, Tax Clearance, VAT Registration, Logo Design, Website, Business Plan, COID, Letter of Good Standing, NHBRC, Accounting, Payroll and more.
To start, just complete and submit the easy application form here and a friendly Consultant will contact you. Alternatively contact Company Partners toll-free on 0800 007 269 (toll-free from landlines and cell phones).
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