Photo: Mbusi Women Plant Hire and Construction.

CAPE TOWN – A Mpumalanga-based woman-owned construction business was awarded product certification by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), after several years of developing suitable products and regular product testing.

Mbusi Women Plant Hire and Construction was awarded their certificate for bricks, at their head office, in Nelspruit on Wednesday. 

Since 2014, when the company added brick making to their portfolio of products and services they developed their own recipe for bricks and faced several challenges in meeting the specifications of South African National Standards (SANS) relating to bricks.  

Their SABS certificate is a testament that their products have been tested and certified to comply against SANS 1215, concrete masonry units and SANS 1058, concrete paving blocks.

“Having our products tested and certified by SABS will now open many doors for us, especially in being awarded tenders.  The journey has been long and strenuous as we started brick making from scratch and had to invest in the plant, the machines and in testing various mixes for stock bricks and pavers to ensure that they met the standards,” said Ethel Shongwe, founder and managing director of Mbusi Women Plant Hire and Construction.

“Part of SABS certification includes a quality management system to ensure that all our bricks are manufactured to standard and not just a test sample.  SABS helped us through this journey since day one and we are looking forward to a bright future for us and for Mpumalanga as we now move forward and start the creation of more jobs and contribute towards our economy.”

Mbusi Women Plant Hire and Construction is one of 29 small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in Mpumalanga that has benefitted from the in depth development from the SABS SMME department, the organisation said.

This two-year investment is a result of a partnership with the Mpumalanga provincial department of economic development and tourism (DEDT) and the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA) who conceptualised and funded the programme to sustainably develop SMMEs to contribute towards job creation and economic development.  

“SMMEs, especially those that are starting out often lack the relevant resources to adequately invest in management systems such as quality management which requires product testing and certification, if they want to be serious participants in local economic opportunities,” said Garth Strachan, acting SABS chief executive.

“While the Mpumalanga DEDT and MEGA initiative focused on the development of local products and suppliers, it is a sterling example of how SMMEs can be developed to be sustainable and have the multiplier effect through job creation.  These SMMEs are now enabled to participate in existing municipal construction opportunities and contribute towards provincial goals of empowering local suppliers.”

While there were initially many SMMEs that were identified as potential participants in the development programme, there were a few that met the criteria in terms of having suitable premises, equipment, human resources and in some cases the time to invest in actively participating in the programme.  

The programme will conclude by the end of the year and approximate ten are expected to achieve product certification status.  SABS product certification indicates that products have been tested both to specifications contained in the relevant SANS and in terms of quality manufacturing processes so that every batch of products is of the same quality as that of the samples tested.

African News Agency (ANA)