Eskom boosts women-owned plastic bricks maker
17 December 2020, Sandton: Two sisters built their business brick by brick and on this solid foundation, they have now become hugely successful.
Ramtsilo Manufacturing and Consulting is a 100% black- and women-owned construction and manufacturing company that was the winner in the manufacturing category at Eskom’s 2019 Business Investment Competition (BIC).
“Being part of the BIC allowed us to gain the kind of brand awareness we needed to make our business a success. The endorsement we got from Eskom contributed to getting capital investment that has allowed us to open a second factory in Benoni, Gauteng, after mainly operating in the Free State,” says co-founder, Kedibone Tsiloane. Ramtsilo, founded by sisters Kekeletso and Kedibone Tsiloane was originally a construction company. They were inspired by their father, who is also in the industry. It took on a new direction when they became passionate about creating environmentally sustainable products after observing plastic waste being collected by informal waste collectors in the townships. Thus, their plastic brick was born.
The bricks constitute 30% recycled plastic and are produced at their facilities in Benoni and Sasolburg. The process of development was a lengthy one. In 2017 their product was still novel and there were no quality measures that were completely suitable for the product to be tested. Yet, they l submitted their product for rigorous testing, based on SABS standards to ensure that it is fire resistant, will last a lifetime and can be trusted for use. The founders heard about the BIC on radio and decided to search for more details on social media and because of their ambitious nature, they decided to give it a go. “The process was relatively quick when you consider that Eskom operates nationally, so I would imagine that there were thousands of entries, all with unique and innovative offerings. To stand out among all of those remains humbling. Overall, it was a great experience that provided so much value not just for our business, but also for us as entrepreneurs.
“It created interest in our business and exposed us to different investors. In the process, we learnt to pitch more effectively to different audiences. Through our interactions with this diverse audience and other entrants, we learnt different things that have helped us refine the way we run the business,” says Kedibone. The Business investment Competition is run by the Eskom Development Foundation to boost enterprise development by creating platforms for South African small and medium enterprises to become part of a community of like-minded entrepreneurs as they look to build on their businesses’ solid foundation and realise their true potential. In its twelfth year, the Covid-19 pandemic has elevated the BIC’s relevance because of the financial knocks that SMEs across the country have suffered as a result. The competition is open for registered black-owned small and medium enterprises across the country, which have been operating for 24 months or longer. Entries are open and will close on 31 January 2021.
“I would encourage other SMEs to be brave and put their businesses out there and enter. I know when you think about competitions, you think about winning, but the process itself provides great value,” concludes Kedibone. SMEs in manufacturing, engineering/construction, trade/services and agriculture sectors can enter the competition on www.eskombic2020.co.za. For support and assistance, small business owners should email Grounded Media on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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