Tebogo Shirinda holds a bachelor of science degree, majoring in mathematics and chemistry. However, when the time came to commit to a profession, he felt unfulfilled because a career in those fields simply didn’t pose enough of a challenge for him. “Firstly, there was a lack of work. But even so, I didn’t want to work for someone,” he explains. “There’s usually a clash of vision between you and whoever runs the company; so I thought it would be better to start something of my own, which would also be more of a challenge for me.” Shirinda began looking into the construction and renovation industry and in 2013, he teamed up with his brother Lebogang to initiate Shirinda Trading and Projects.
The company is focussed on the renovation of buildings through painting, plumbing, carpentry and civil works. Not having sufficient capital of their own, the brothers turned to family and friends to fund the company. Initially it focussed on projects in the township of Majaneng, Hammanskraal, where its offices are based. “However, we weren’t seeing enough in terms of turnover, so we began renovating government buildings and private companies as well,” says Shirinda. But the brothers have no intention of moving their offices out of Majaneng — for many good reasons.
“The advantages of running an office in the township outweigh the advantages of doing so out of a township,” says Shirinda. “Firstly running an office in a township assures you of security,” he says. “There is a very low rate of break-ins because most people here know each other, so if anyone sees someone strange approaching your premises, they’ll question them – it’s a different case outside of townships, where security is a risk.” The costs of running an office in a township are also lower, he adds. “Your electricity bill in a township is lower than what it would otherwise be,” he explains. “The salaries you pay staff in townships are half of what you would otherwise pay.” Shirinda Trading and Projects employs much of its staff on a project-by-project basis from within the township itself.
The company just completed a project in the Limpopo province and now aims to extend its footprint further. Shirinda believes that the Township Entrepreneurship Award will assist greatly in this regard: “It’s a major achievement for us. It will get us noticed,” he says. “People like to do business with people who are winners. When you come into a meeting and you have the award behind you, this shows that that your business is legitimate and you can ride on that success.”
In his opinion, the township economy is growing. He points out that these days, it is common to find credible businesses providing specialist solutions in townships, a scenario that was previously unheard of. “Previously you could only find spaza shops in the townships,” he recalls. “These days you can find big businesses, like construction companies in townships. They are legally registered, they employ many young people, and they pay taxes.”