Forging an entrenched position

After starting their fibreoptic installation operation in 2007, the Mkonza sisters applied to the IDC and qualified for an R11-million injection that set their business, Xuma Technologies, on the path towards winning major contracts and creating jobs.

The company specialises in the capital-intensive business of laying fibreoptic cables for network operators and municipalities and also provides telecommunication infrastructure services, including civil works. "One of the challenges we faced was that although we had concluded several long-term contracts, payment was generally made on the successful completion of work performed," says Boitumelo Mkonza.

"Laying optic fibre is highly capital intensive and we needed an injection of working capital to be able to fulfil the contracts." Among these contracts was work completed for Dark Fibre Africa. The contact involved blowing, splicing and laying terrestrial fibre cable. As a result of this and other contracts facilitated by the WEF funding, Xuma Technologies has created 296 jobs and has a staff that is 85% permanent employees.

More than 1 000 temporary workers also benefited from the company's skills development programme. "The information, communications and technology sector is one of our 14 key focus sectors for development funding," says the IDC's head of development funds, Meryl Mamathuba.

"This project fitted neatly into those criteria and we're pleased to see it go from strength to strength. "We need to increase the extent to which women own and manage existing and new enterprises by improving their access to econ "This strategy is necessary to create viable opportunities that facilitate sustainable development and empowerment." The support from the IDC extends beyond the provision of financial inputs. Boitumelo credits it with providing additional business support in the form of guidance that is applied for business planning, training and mentorship. "The IDC didn't just provide capital; it guided us through the process of putting it to good use."

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