A shining success in construction

Nweti Construction leading the way with foresight and fortitude


Nweti Construction was founded in 2008 by Joshua Ndlovu, who is also the Executive Chairperson. Although he had been involved in a number of entrepreneurial activities before Nweti, Ndlovu was looking for a vehicle that would build a sustainable business and contribute meaningfully to job creation as well as participate in the macro economy.

The name Nweti means “the moon” in isiTsonga; in Ndlovu’s words, the name reflects the key values of foresight and fortitude: “It is Nweti’s belief that like the moon, the organization must have the foresight to look beyond current horizons and challenges to the future that we want to shape. We therefore acknowledge realities and challenges but continue in pursuit of our objectives even during what may appear to be our darkest moments.”

Ndlovu continues, “With regard to fortitude, we relentlessly endeavour to deliver works of the highest quality regardless of any obstacles that may inhibit this noble cause. This requires the drive and passion, absolute determination and due care to achieve our goals.”

One-stop shop

Nweti has had a very steep growth trajectory over the last three years moving from level 4 CE CIDB grading to currently 8CEPE order book surpassing R560 million. Ndlovu comments, “We are fully aware of the risk of overtrading and have implemented our internal fitness programme to improve our processes and how we operate so that we can continue to meet our clients’ set terms of references as well as deliver more complex works within our scale.”

This growth has set the scene for Nweti to expand. “We predominantly operate in Gauteng, however we have done work in the North West and have now expanded our footprint to both the Western Cape and the Free State, where we are currently establishing site for our first contract. It is key to note that we have exceeded the respective clients’ set targets.”

Ndlovu continues: “We are currently assessing opportunities within the infrastructure value chain. Our starting point will be to look at participation in ‘construction materials’ so that we can positively dilute our earnings/margins on the one hand but also look to be a unique one-stop shop for infrastructure development—from material supply to execution.

“With the ever increasing demand in amenities such as housing, retails, clinics and schools, our property development division under the Nweti emblem has recently been established and we are hard at work to create value and our own project pipeline in the foreseeable future.”

Nweti currently employs over 100 employees and further contributes to employment via subcontracting business to local communities in line with their corporate social responsibility programme. This contribution to society can only increase as the company achieves its goals.

A company apart

What sets Ndlovu apart from other companies in construction is its close-knit culture. “We believe in oneness,” says Ndlovu. “We work as a family. We take pride in having a very young dynamic team that invests immensely in continuous improvement and value engineering. This is equally beneficial to us as a contractor and our clients.”

“Our key strength is quality,” he continues. “We pride ourselves on delivering high quality work, first time right, all the time. As a niche civils contractor, we strive to be the best in this area of construction. Our focus assists us to be highly competitive in our space. Respect and simplicity are also important—we genuinely respect our stakeholders and therefore engage meaningfully well beyond the completion of our projects. We believe in the simplicity of who we are as well as the clarity of our message and value proposition.”

Thanks to these qualities, Nweti has notched up some impressive projects to date. Ndlovu singles out two of which he is particularly proud: “In Soshanguve we executed a road project for Human Settlements in 2017—our quality delivery was a key factor in us securing the second phase of the project for the client. In Mamelodi, we are expanding bridges to assist with ease of access into and out of the township, as part of the Tshwane Bus Rapid Transport system.”

As a result of these successes, Ndlovu believes that Nweti is already changing the world for the better. “We believe that our contribution and works as an infrastructure company is going to dent the universe, in the sense of a complete change in how people live, how business is conducted and the ease of integration with the greater Tshwane community,” he says.

Overcoming adversity

As with many South African SMEs, Ndlovu admits that the conservative approach of financial institutions can be a hurdle. “Our biggest challenge as a black-owned construction company is at times less favourable funding solutions for a company of our size. We would like to believe that as we have completed a number of projects of over R50m, the market will recognize this and hopefully the financial institutions will view our risk profile differently. We continue to engage with financial institutions and have introduced more prudent financial discipline whilst we place a lot of emphasis on effective working capital management.”

Success, too, can be a risk. “Our second biggest challenge has been managing the growth responsibly so as to ensure that we do not overtrade, but also to press on with our continuous improvement program.”

Future prospects

Lately, the construction sector has been under a cloud, with big companies like Murray & Roberts shutting up shop or planning to leave the country. However, for smaller companies, there may be a silver lining.

“We believe that some of these once great construction companies may have suffered from the unfortunate negative perceptions of anti-competitive behavior,” says Ndlovu. “We don’t know how much did this affect them in securing works or to what extent (if at all) it eroded their clients’ trust—I think this question would be best answered by the legends themselves. That said, the unfortunate exit of the big players presents massive opportunities for smaller players to participate in the market. It is also terribly important for us to keep our lean structure so that we remain agile and adopt quickly to changes in the market.”

Looking to the future, Ndlovu is optimistic. “Our continent is young, vibrant and growing fast with huge challenges for housing infrastructure. Our reason for existence is defined by resolving these real tangible challenges. Our strategy and our people will enable us to be counted in the development of our country and continent. And as our president says, ‘Thuma mina’. We are excited about the future of our country and continent,” he concludes.

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