- A mother-of-one from Cape Town has overcome a struggled childhood and now owns her own company in the construction industry
- Nonceba Ndube was raised by a single mom who worked two jobs, with the family at one point all living in a one-room in the Gugulethu township
- The civil engineer maintains that although the family did not have much money, the love in their home and the strength of her mother inspired her to reach for the stars
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A successful civil engineer from the Gugulethu township in Cape Town is making big moves in the construction industry, despite facing a troubled childhood and growing up poor.
The single mom owns her own company called Ntsika Health & Safety Services, which assesses and monitors safety on construction sites and ensures that labourers are taken care of.
Growing up with a single mother
Nonceba was raised by a single parent named Teboho Ndube, who worked two jobs as a nurse to ensure that she could support her three kids.
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The entrepreneur’s mother left her dad when she and her siblings were growing up and moved from Langa to the Nyanga township after divorcing her abusive husband who became very violent when he was drunk.
Although living with family in a packed home was tough, Teboho knew she needed to create a better life for her children:
“My mother struggled a lot and worked two jobs as a nurse. I remember that she always told my siblings and I that we needed to study and work hard to ensure that we didn’t have the obstacles she had.”
Later, the family moved to the Gugulethu township, and Nonceba, her two siblings and her mom all stayed in one room until the deed of the house was transferred to her mother’s name, which took about two years.
Despite the struggles the family faced, the businesswoman’s mother ensured that all her kids attended good schools and prioritised their education:
“My mom would wake up early to walk to the clinic in Gugulethu where she worked, but she always ensured that she got my siblings and I ready for school before leaving. I attended Cape Town High School, and while I do remember that we struggled in those days, my mother’s love was so important to us.”
Nonceba notes that she grew up in a very happy and loving household despite her mother working as a hospital nurse during the week and caring for an older couple in Constantia during her spare time:
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“Sometimes, we’d even laugh about the situation; if we went to bed hungry one day, the next day, we’d leave that behind us and continue living.”
While the entrepreneur’s mom sadly passed away in 2014 from Leukemia, she maintains that the strong woman helped shape the person she is today and inspired her to be a good mother to her 12-year-old son, Chumani Lonwabo Ndube.
Conquering the construction industry
Nonceba studied for a National Diploma in Civil Engineering at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and graduated in 2010 before bagging her degree from the same institution in 2017:
“When I was completing my degree, I was working as a health and safety officer at another company. I was always busy working on my laptop and answering work-related calls and yet still managed to obtain grades that were in the 90s.”
“One of my classmates encouraged me to start my own business. I initially thought it was crazy because I was studying at the time, but then my boss suggested the same thing, and in 2017, I went for it.”
The go-getter registered her organisation in February 2017 and notes that although it is a struggle to cope with being a single mother and a businesswoman in the construction industry, her son, Chumani, is a very understanding child:
“He is actually my best friend. He knows I am there for him and attend his extramural events whenever I can.”
The little man is also incredibly inspired by his strong momma and told her that he also wants to be a civil engineer:
“He says to me, ‘mom, I also want to do what you do because I go to a good school and you’re able to put food on the table, so I want to be able to do that as well.'"
Ntsika Health & Safety Services focuses on ensuring that construction companies are compliant with occupational and health protocols that keep workers safe:
“We ensure that businesses take care of their labourers, follow safety regulations on-site, that construction workers are equipped with the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), that employees are trained for the work they do, and so on.
“It’s about making sure that companies are compliant with specific laws and ensure that their workers are safe and taken care of.”
Nonceba notes that, in a sense, she was inspired by her mom to take on the field she currently works in:
“My mother always cared for people, and I do too. In my line of work, you become the voice of the labourers working at these construction companies.”
Hopes for the future
The doting mother hopes to expand her company and provide employment to more people in her local community:
“I currently have one employee, and my sister also helps me, so I would love to grow my business and help my community.”
Nonceba believes that if young women want to work as civil engineers or in construction specifically, they should just go for it and not allow themselves to be deterred by the fact that the field may be male-dominated:
“At the end of the day, we’re all just people. So, I would tell any young woman to go for it, and maybe one day the industry will be woman-dominated.”
Inspiring scientist recalls tough childhood, being a single mom: “I don’t know how my mother coped”
In a related story by Briefly News, a doting mother-of-two has overcome many personal hurdles to become a university lecturer and scientist.
Ncediwe Ndube-Tsolekile grew up in three different townships in Cape Town with a single mom who worked two jobs to support her and the two older siblings she has. But despite everything, the perseverant woman always dreamt of being a scientist and now mentors other young black females in academia.
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Source: Briefly News