Women step up in housing project


The construction industry in Nelson Mandela Bay is no longer a men-only club, and more and more young women are determined to make their mark by developing the metro.
Nolubabalo Ngcaphe and Babalwa Rafani, who are members of the Ikomva Glass and Aluminium co-operative, are helping to develop Walmer Township – where they come from – through their involvement in a multimillion-rand project to build more than 2,200 houses.
Ikomva is one of the five cooperatives which are part of the Umzi WaseGqebera Housing Development Association, which has already helped create hundreds of jobs for locals.
Ikomva is responsible for the assembling and installation of aluminium windows for the houses, and its contract is valued at R805,000.
Ngcaphe and Rafani, who described the housing project – valued at almost R264m – as a life-changer, said their dream was to one day help alleviate the ballooning unemployment in the city. “We are taking away the mentality that women can’t be in construction,” Ngcaphe said.
“We want to show this community that women can take charge in this field.”
The project model is driven by members of the Walmer Township community to improve their living conditions – where the beneficiaries make decisions on their houses.
The first phase of the Walmer Enhanced People’s Housing Process consists of about 500 units and Ikomva has already fitted windows for 100 houses.
Umzi WaseGqebera Housing Development Association chair Wandile Gxekwa said he believed the women-led co-operative was doing good work and the women had shown their potential to be great businesspeople.
“There is a fantastic future for them,” he said.
“There are very few black women in the supply chain and these co-operatives can begin to occupy that space.”
The association is working in partnership with the department of human settlements and the department of small business development.
The five co-operatives, responsible for electrical, plumbing, carpentry, bricklaying work as well as the aluminium windows, are expecting to receive new equipment worth R9.3m through a co-operative grant from the department of small business development in April.
“For Ikomva, it will mean that we won’t just be assembling these windows, but we will be able to manufacture them from the beginning here on site.
“We have been through training and we have learnt a lot and we know we can help many more people find jobs,” Rafani said.
Association construction business manager Francis Grantham said the intention was to holistically empower the local community.
“This project has a training and upskilling component,” he said.
“This will then create the kinds of businesses we are looking for and thus the community will eventually become self-sufficient.”

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