SANRAL empowers women in roads

AUGUST 8, 2016

August is celebrated as Women’s Month but for SANRAL it is much more - advancing the cause of women is a constant in all its operations.

The South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd (SANRAL) has a consistent and long term programme to support women in road infrastructure development and is making significant strides in mainstreaming women-owned road construction businesses.

About 15 of businesses (large and small) employed on SANRALs conventional and routine road maintenance projects are female-owned, while the percentage female owned SMMEs on SANRALs community development type projects gradually grew from 30% to 40% over past three financial years. This forms an integral part of the organisation’s programme to engage local SMMEs on all its projects, says SANRAL Project Manager, Marlize Nel-Verwey.

According to the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), there are a total of 35 049 CE registered enterprises in South Africa, of which 11 397 (32.52%) are women-owned.

Where a particular contract duration allows for it, SANRAL provides the SMMEs it employs with training and mentorship. Business owners receive support and training in management, technical, Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), tendering, financial, administration, industrial relations and human resources skills. Most of SANRALs community development type of projects are scheduled over a 24-month period which allows SANRAL to present a South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) accredited qualification to SMMEs on these projects.  This qualification empowers business ownership to secure future business opportunities.

Martha Mhlauli, owner of civil engineering firm Women’s Pride Civils, says: “SMMEs need big business for the experience they can get. Our employees gain more experience on bigger projects. Also, big business provides us with access to equipment, which we would otherwise not be able to afford.”

In the 2014/15 financial year, SANRAL spent R2.9 billion on contracts with small businesses and 4 064 people were trained in aspects of road building, of whom 1 694 were women.

In the 2014/15/16 mid-year results, a total of 324 women-owned enterprises were contracted by SANRAL to the value of just more than R1.2 billion. 

“We salute women in August, but also beyond this special month,” says Nel-Verwey.