SBA graduate Shireen de Villiers takes on the male-dominated construction industry fearlessly
As a woman in a male-dominated industry, she faced many challenges, including discrimination and disrespect from project managers, male competitors, clients, and even her staff, along the way. Isibindi is thus such a fitting name, meaning "courage" in Zulu. "This name captures the essence of our business. We aim to empower women in construction by providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in this industry," she says.
Shireen consciously decided to empower herself by participating in a Contractor Development Programme fully funded by the Department of Transport and Public Works. "This programme provided me with training in business management, tender pricing, and practical training in building and civil engineering."
She also graduated from the Small Business Academy (SBA) Development Programme presented by Stellenbosch Business School. About this experience, she says: "The programme offered just the right skills needed to elevate my business. In addition, I connected with 40 other entrepreneurs and was awarded "Best Overall Business Plan" at the end of the programme.
"I was able to start implementing everything I was taught into the business, especially financial and marketing aspects. It also boosted my confidence in presenting my business to prospective clients. I highly recommend the programme as it summarises all the tools and practices required to scale your business and gives a small business the edge!"
In October 2021, she decided to write the technical skill test at NHBRC (National Housing Building Regulation Council). "I passed the test with a 90% pass rate, enabling me to apply for building houses. In May 2021, we received our accreditation letter from CETA (Construction Education and Training Academy) to train SMMEs in Construction & Roadworks (NQF Level 3 & 5)," she proudly declares.
The company was awarded its first building project in July 2022, which consisted of building four double storey houses from foundation phase to completion. “By successfully completing the project, we proved that women in construction are capable to follow through with a project of that size,” she says.
Shireen has many plans for the future of the company. "Isibindi Construction has recently embarked on a training entity. In June 2022, we received our Construction Education & Training Authority (CETA) Accreditation Certification. As a result, we are eligible to offer the following training opportunities to SMMEs: National Diploma: Management of Civil Engineering Construction Processes (NQF level 5) and Certificate: Construction Roadworks (NQF level 3)."
She adds: "We also aim to offer mentorship to these SMMEs and provide consulting services to ensure they are compliant. In addition, our facilitators and assessors have combined 25 years of experience in facilitating training programmes to help build this division."