A young woman whose dream to study for a civil engineering degree was shattered by her lower matric results has turned her disappointment into a booming business in the construction industry.
Alice Madisha overcame her failure to land a place for the degree and instead studied quantity surveying which soon turned into a business venture into construction management.
Madisha says during her stint as a quantity surveyor she identified identify gaps in the industry and partnered with her mentor Jannie Smith to form Smith Madisha Construction.
Today the business has overseen major projects such as the construction of a Woolworths shop in Roodepoort and bagged her a nomination for the business woman of the year award. Madisha says she saw that the industry lacked basic business skills such as information flow, programming, business ethics and cash flow to pick her niche.
Her company specialises in completion of projects. She says her urge was to provide quality services that exceeded the expectations by ensuring that building projects were completed on time. Smith Madisha Construction’s clientele ranges from shopping centres, car dealerships, drive through fast food outlets, office parks, lobby upgrades and warehouses in the Gauteng province.
“As it is an industry highly dependent on contractors,” Madisha. “We do everything right the first time, and when a problem arise, fix it because it will never just go away. We believe that if your quality of work is good, and if your projects are completed by the required date, you will always have work.”
The company started in 2011 when the two felt that there was enough room for other participants in the building construction industry. Madisha describes the journey as a coming together of dedicated and committed people who wanted to ensure that client’ expectations are met and exceeded. She says their goal is to form longlasting, trusting and mutually beneficial relationships with clients.
Madisha says they would also like to offer on-site training for emerging contractors to ensure they can compete with major players in the industry.
“We advice and do training for emerging consultants and project manager in their roles and responsibilities during the projects to ensure that they will become proficient project managers being able to deliver the client’s needs in future,” she says.
“We want to assist them with programming, information flow, cash flow, business ethics, contractual requirements and other aspects that make a construction company successful.”
She says the company has had its fair share of problems as a start up. Its unknown profile made projects far and in between.
“For us, it was in the three year that the projects we were getting were time constraining and there were no projects coming in, that is where we face financial issues. The most challenging thing about construction is having no projects to cross over to the next year.”
The 30 year old Madisha started as a junior quantity surveyor with C-Pro Construction where she specialised in measuring the tender department. Her understanding of problems saw her quickly transferred to be a site agent’s assistance at Randridge Mall the following year.
That is where the partnership with Smith began. “He started out as my mentor and we today we are a great team together.” It is an achievement for a rural girl who grew up in her grandmother’s house in Zebediela, Ga- Madisha Ditoro, Limpopo, as her parents could not afford to pay for her tuition fees.
Luck was however on her side as she scored a bursary with the Construction Education and Training Authority (ceta) to do her National Diploma in Quantity Surveying at the University Of Johannesburg. From there the sky was the limit for and Madisha went on to obtain a B- tech degree Construction Management at Tshwane University of Technology.
Her initial option was a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering but her matric results did not qualify her to enroll. She then opted for for construction management with hopes that this would enable her to pursue civil engineering. However, she then fell in love with love with construction management and decided to settle there.
But she admits that the industry is still male dominated. “Most of the time, we (women) get undermined but after they see capabilities on what you can delivery, they get soften a bit. But the great thing I love about the industry is that there is always something new to do. Every project that you get to, there is something new that you have to learn.”
In 2015, the company completed a project for Nandos and Burger King at Trade Route Mall in Lenasia.
The mother of one says being an entrepreneur has taught her never to take things for granted. “You have to appreciate everything because there is a lot at stake and you can’t afford to give up. It is not an easy road where you can do as you please there a lot at stake and people are actually depending of you.”
- BUSINESS REPORT