In 2014, Thabisile Hlongwane founded Isibusiso Holdings (trading as Isibusiso Concrete), a business that specialises in road infrastructure.
The business manufactures, supplies and installs a wide range of precast concrete products, including road kerbs and catch-pit cover slabs.“Client relationship management is key to the success of my business. Within the same month of the sale, we follow up on the services received and get feedback on the products.”
Isibusiso Concrete is a 100% black-woman-owned business, with offices in Bloemfontein that also services outside areas such as Aliwal North, Sterkspruit and Kimberley. Thabisile currently employs 10 people and plans to employ up to 20 by 2019.
To help develop the business, Thabisile has set short and long term goals which include:
Short term, to include paving, building blocks and lintels into the business offering as well as obtain South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) accreditation.
Long term, she would then like to include ready-mix concrete to the business offering as well as expand its operations with branches in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
“As a SAB KickStart Boost finalist, I would like, more than anything, exposure to the right markets so that I can reach my goals of expansion. I would like to engage (more) with the other programme finalists – to either co-learn with them or form partnerships where applicable. I have already connected Twaing Trading Comprehensive with regard to lintels and other concrete products.”
- Inspiration: I have a number of people that inspired me.
- My father – the late Edgar Sibusiso Mngadi – who was also an entrepreneur and I opened my business as a tribute to him. He had big dreams for his company (Sure Focus42), and I used his vision to guide my own company – I aim to be the leading, accredited provider of pre-cast concrete solutions.
- Matieho Motlohi – an associate that believed in me and my capabilities. She introduced me to the Entrepreneurs Networking South Africa (ENSA), which is a networking platform for small to medium enterprises. She assisted me in my first year of business, while I built my confidence and to her I will be forever grateful.
- My mother – Bernadine Zodwa Zondi. Behind everyone strong woman, there is a stronger one backing her and in this case it has always been my Mah. She has been my pillar of strength through thick and thin – especially in 2014 when my father passed away and I lost my job. When I could not see a way forward, she shone the light for me.
- What drives you and motivates you as an entrepreneur? I am driven by the future results. I never give up, instead I prove over and over again that I can do it. I am driven by excellence in everything I do.
- Advice to fellow entrepreneurs: Believe in your abilities, even when no one else does. It is a tough world – we will be cheated and looked down on by bigger corporates but that must not discourage you. Rather, learn as much as you possibly can about your industry so that you compete against them at your own level. I am a firm believer in the future (and looking ahead at the bigger picture), which has helped me get where I am today.
- Something from your entrepreneur journey: The journey has not been easy and it is pretty lonely at times. You are alone when you are trying to figure out the next steps and you are alone when things do not pan out the way you hoped. But I pushed through all the challenges because I had one goal in mind – to become a recognised and sustainable business.
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