A hard-hatted construction boss designs PPE for women

Published On: 25 November 2021|

Ms Kholeka Mtshali, a 23-year-old University of Free State Bachelor of Divinity student, puts on a hard hat and runs a business called Opulence Construction Agency. It is no surprise, then, to learn that she was raised by a contractor.

She was a finalist in the EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity 2021, which held an award-giving event hosted by Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) in Kempton Park, on 19 November. EDHE is a Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) programme administered and implemented under the auspices of Universities South Africa (USAf). Her enterprise competed in the Existing Business – Tech category.

This competition, the third since its inception in 2019, had attracted 4168 entries, of which 150 met all requirements. At the regional rounds this number was whittled further down to 28 for the finals. Mtshali was among the 16 women in the top 28.

Growing up in Paulpietersburg (eDumbhade), in rural KwaZulu Natal, Mtshali (above) had watched her father eke out a living, doing construction work. “My dad was the best in the area, when it came to construction, but being in a rural area, he got few clients so he made very little money. He had no marketing strategy; all business came to him through word of mouth.”

Having watched all of that, the daughter learned a significant lot. When she went to university in Bloemfontein, she saw that there was a need for good, experienced contractors. That became an Aha! moment for her.

One-stop-shop agency

“That is where the idea of my construction agency came from: a place from where contractors could be sourced and centrally vetted so that clients could be guaranteed the right calibre of service providers and be assured of a quality standard of service.”

Her agency, Opulence Construction, was thus born. It helps contractors to market and advertise their trade. She also connects individual contractors with construction companies– making sure that employment comes with further skills training on the job.

Mtshali says as she interacted more with individuals in the industry, she noticed that more women were working in construction, doing the same work as men but wearing protective clothing designed for men. “So, I looked at the personal protective equipment (PPE) and designed clothing specifically for women: that fits their bodies, needs – and personalities!”

Thus, her new range of PPE for women in construction was launched a few months ago. As opposed to men’s overall outfits that combine pants and top in one, she has designed women’s PPE, separating the top from the bottom, thus creating all-time convenience for the women in the hard-hat industry. She says, judging from the feedback and inquiries she has received to date, she expects this range to perform very well in the market.

How Opulence Construction Agency makes money:

  • It charges for quotations.
  • It takes an Agency administration fee from each project that it successfully connects a contractor to.
  • It will also earn revenue from the PPE line of clothing.

Charmain Naidoo is a contract writer for Universities South Africa.