Sithole blazing a trail in the construction industry

Sbahle Sithole monitors the work at SMAIS Bricks site to ensure quality of her bricks.
Sbahle Sithole monitors the work at SMAIS Bricks site to ensure quality of her bricks.
Image: Supplied.

Sbahle Sithole is a young entrepreneur who is blazing a trail in the construction industry.

Sithole monitors the work at the SMAIS Bricks site to ensure the quality of her bricks.

Sithole (27), from Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal, is the founder of SMAIS Bricks, a company she registered in 2018 while pursuing a degree in accounting at the University of the Witwatersrand.

“I have always aspired to be one of the youngest women in construction, although I barely knew how to get myself into such an industry,” she says.

Shortly after graduating, also in 2018, Sithole’s mother bought her a brickmaking machine as a gift.

After receiving the machine from her mother she saw an opportunity to enter the construction industry and fulfil her dream.

Sithole manufactures M140 blocks and foundation bricks (also known as mampara).

Sithole says she has learnt a lot about the construction business and now wishes to expand and manufacture more building materials.

Sithole is one of the young entrepreneurs who have applied for funding from the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) in August 2021. She is currently waiting for a response.

The NEF funds black entrepreneurs to create real economic empowerment for black people.

It assists existing and start-up businesses with non-financial business support, and also helps them financially through various funds, including the Women Empowerment Fund; Imbewu Fund; COVID-19 Business Fund; Umnotho Fund, Rural, Township and Community Development Fund; Strategic Projects Fund; Arts and Culture Venture Capital Fund; and Tourism Transformational Fund.

How to apply for funding from the NEF

  • Visit and click on the ‘funding solutions’ tab.
  • Do a needs analysis for yourself and your business by reading and understanding all nine funds the NEF offers.
  • Click 'how to apply for funding', under the 'funding solutions' tab at the top of the page. Download an application form and fill it in to present your business case for assessment. You must attach a proposal that contains information that your business will be able to make a profit.
  • A business plan guideline has been provided on the application form, to highlight various topics you need to cover when making your submission.
  • Submit your application to
  • Once your application is received, it will be assessed and the NEF will provide you with feedback.  

For more information, visit, call 011 305 8000 or email

-This article was originally published in the GCIS Vuk'uzenzele.