Even after being in the engineering business and developing neighbourhoods and townships for 20 years, entrepreneur Kibiti Ntshumaelo is still excited about his work. Helping people to access the small things that others would take for granted, such as opening a tap, brings warmth to his heart. And being able to solve problems and empower others, is what gets Ntshumaelo out of bed every morning.
Ntshumaelo told Vutivi News that he was able to achieve all of this through Lekwa Consulting Engineers (Pty) Ltd. Coming from Phuthaditjaba in the Free State, Ntshumaelo’s early days as an entrepreneur were shaped by his family. “My mom’s sister was an entrepreneur and I learned from her,” he said. “I always wanted to help people, so the business side was really to solve problems with the skills and knowledge that I have gained through my training.”
He has a degree in engineering and a postgraduate diploma in engineering from Wits University. His consultancy firm is based in Alberton in Ekurhuleni. It focuses on project planning, feasibility studies, and the monitoring of civil engineering projects like water and sanitation, roads, stormwater drains and township developments. A self-made man, Ntshumaelo is also a shareholder at Tirovert (Pty) Ltd, a cement brick manufacturing company based in Katlehong, which was founded in 2013.
He also founded Gallato 1729 Services (Pty) Ltd, which specialises in property development, property management and facilities management in the same year. He describes his early days in business as exciting. “During those years, there was no competitive bidding process. So, traditional face-to-face direct marketing was key in getting business with the public sector, particularly municipalities which were in their infancy,” he said. “I travelled throughout the provinces, meeting technical managers in different municipalities. Those were exciting times where professionalism was valued.”
Ntshumaelo used to employ 28 people, but due to the sluggish economy and delays in implementing infrastructure projects, he now has 10 staffers. Also, the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic has not left his businesses unscathed. “We had to cut costs, and this sadly included retrenching up to 30% of our staff,” he said. “This also included downsizing the office space, reducing salaries and straight cost containment.
“It has taken a toll on me, and through having a strong support structure and solid partnerships, we were able to move out of the valley,” he said. However, looking back on his achievements, Ntshumaelo cannot help but be proud of his progress. “We have successfully completed key and signature projects ranging from rural water supply, the establishment of at least three new townships in Gauteng, and being one of the professional resource teams that assisted the Human Settlements Department in providing houses to the people in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng,” he told Vutivi News.
And his future looks promising. “With an evolving market, the business has to keep up and stay relevant and redefine the service offering,” he said. “We have seen the need to remain honourable, professional and have solid business footing. In this regard, the business is looking into the gig economy whereby on-demand, project-based solutions are required.”