Thandeka Nombanjinji-Nzama is the founder and managing director of 100% female led and owned construction company, Mbokodo Building. Her company’s vision aims to change the narrative of male domination within the construction industry by prioritising the employment, promotion, upliftment, skills development and empowerment of women.
Speaking to TRUELOVE, the Soweto-born entrepreneur says that she was fortunate to have come from a family of entrepreneurs. She was imparted with a wealth of knowledge within the property sector by her late father, Ligwa Nombanjinji, who was one of the biggest property developers in Johannesburg.
“I grew in a well nurtured, business orientated territory. My parents being entrepreneurs, I gained knowledge about running a business. The influence of my late father, Mr Ligwa Nombanjinji, one of the biggest property developers in Johannesburg, led me to starting my own empire,” she tell us.
After serving as the MD of Nombanjinji Family Property for many years, Nombanjinji-Nzama founded Mbokodo Building which specialises in general construction and civil works.
She tells us about empowering women through her company, the secret to having a successful career in construction and more.
Please tell us a bit about your career background?
I am a qualified Public Relations Practitioner that holds a Diploma in Public Relations (DIPPR-HEQSF Level 5), an Advanced Diploma in Public Relations (DIPPR-HEQSF Level 6), a Sales Executive and a Sales and Marketing Certificate. I started my career and gained her broad Sales and Marketing experience through numerous fruitful years holding the Sales Executive position inside the BMW and AUDI Groups respectively.
Why the name Mbokodo Building?
We all know the slogan 'Wathint' Umfazi, Wathint' Imbokodo'. The name comes about as a need to give women strength and a voice to feel empowered enough to want to get into the construction industry. Also, to give a strong standpoint that women are also capable of claiming their spaces in the industry even if it is male dominated.
Why was it important for you and your company to empower the youth and specifically women?
Mbokodo Building Pty Ltd was established with the sole purpose of minimizing the gender gaps and organising the inclusivity of females in the construction industry. I realised that the construction industry had less female participation in the upper part of the hierachy. That did not sit well with me. As a woman who already had a foot in the industry, I then decided to use Mbokodo Building as a tool to empower women to penetrate the construction sector mainly because we need more female representation in the industry.
What do you think should be done to make it easier for women to get into the construction industry?
Making a difference should not only mean vocalising an issue over and over again without any action; but being able to stand up fearlessly and doing something about it. As such, we need to refrain from just talking and be practical about making it easier for women to penetrate into the construction industry. Starting from having a proactive approach that entails empowering women through creating employment in the construction industry and entrusting them with higher positions within the industry.
What would you say are the secrets to having a successful career in property and construction?
Decide what kind of life you want & say no to everything that doesn’t fit in with it. Your insecurities, your procrastination and your ego are the biggest competition; compete with them and not with other people. Moreover, you need to be prepared to work very hard because the construction industry is one of the toughest industries. Be willing to learn.
Where would you like to see the Mbokodo Building in the next 10 years?
A lot can still be achieved and as Mbokodo Building we believe that we definitely will not track back. In 10 years time, I would like to see Mbokodo Building as a powerhouse in the construction industry with footprints across Africa. Perhaps most importantly, in the next 10 years I would also like to continue using Mbokodo Building as a portal of empowerment for women who wish to be in the construction industry.