Youth-run brickmaking co-op makes a mark in construction industry
Kamva Elihle sells to individuals, supplies local hardware stores
A youth cooperative is thriving in the construction industry, creating jobs for rural youths Eastern Cape.
Kamva Elihle Brick Youth Cooperative based at Mongolong village in Matatiele was established by five young people in 2017.
The chairperson of the cooperative, Aphumelele Ndukwana, 27, said he first had the idea to start the business in 2014 after he struggled to complete a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering at the University of Pretoria.
“Because I have always been interested in the construction industry, I just started making concrete blocks at home so that we could build extra rooms. People in my community started asking if I sell the blocks. That’s what sparked the idea of manufacturing,” explained Ndukwana.
A growing interest from prospective clients saw Ndukwana recruit his friends and his father, who is now late, was knowledgeable about the business and therefore gave useful advice to the group. Chief among them was the idea to register a cooperative and the group of friends did so in 2018.
They manufactured concrete blocks and started selling in and around Mangolong.
In 2020, the cooperative successfully applied for the Isiqalo Youth Fund from the Eastern Cape department of economic development, environment affairs and tourism.
“We received R1.2m and bought an automated block manufacturing machine and other materials,” Ndukwana said.
In 2021, the cooperative went back to the department and successfully applied for the Local, Regional and Economic Development Fund.
With the R1.9m from the fund, the cooperative purchased a tipper truck, a 14 ton truck to deliver hardware, a tractor loader backhoe as well as commission and training for the automated block manufacturing machine.
“This has contributed massively to the growth of the business because we are now supplying some [of the] hardware businesses in the town of Matatiele,” he said.
In 2022, the cooperative established a paint manufacturing business, Mthimkhulu Paints.
Through its progress and support including by the Alfred Nzo district municipality, today the cooperative employs 25 people permanently, majority of whom being local youths. – This article first appeared in GCIS’s Vuk’Uzenzele
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