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‘PUM helps us to make many peoples’ lives better’

Female entrepreneurship

Having worked herself out of poverty and depression, the South Africa entrepreneur Indrani Govender had just one goal; to do the same for others. Her construction company grew dramatically, but somehow there were no profits. She called in PUM to help professionalise her business operations.

When over a period of just six months in 2009 Indrani fell victim to a serious traffic accident and two armed robberies, she fell into a deep depression. ‘It was the thought of my two sons that kept me going. But I had to get out of the house, find a distraction.’ In a cafe, she read a newspaper item about a women empowerment programme being offered for free by the government. She decided to take part with a view to setting up her own business.

 ‘Empowerment is important for everyone’

Creating jobs

After various training programmes, the new entrepreneur started a gardening business. She responded to dozens of tenders and finally won the 37th one. After that, things moved quickly. ‘I realized I could change peoples’ lives by creating jobs. And it became my passion.’ She added a construction, electronics and telecommunications branch to her business Ricinz Construction, and the company continued to expand rapidly. Despite the growth, there were no profits. ‘I just kept losing money. And then I heard about PUM and decided to ask for help.’

Open and direct

PUM expert Gert van Batenburg started investigating the company. ‘It was quickly clear that Indrani didn’t have enough insight into her business operations and was losing money instead of making it. But there was more to it than just that. She had an ad-hoc way of management and had difficulty in delegating. She literally listened in on every telephone conversation, she couldn’t understand the financial statements and the accountant’s work wasn’t good. Indrani was obviously working herself towards a burnout. I was very open and direct with her, which worked well in combination with her eagerness to learn and her desire to improve. She’s implemented nearly 85% of my action points, but the most important lesson has been learning to let go so that her personnel accept their responsibilities.’

‘Thanks to PUM my company has grown by 300 per cent’

Amazing results

In Indrani’s words, the PUM expert has changed her life. ‘He created structure. In the past, staff used to come up to my desk the whole day through with their questions. Gert’s advice was to set up a single moment in the week when I was available for consultation.’ The expert also recommended launching into the private sector. ‘There were lots of small recommendations and the result is amazing: my company has grown 300 per cent since his visit.’

Electronics and vegetable gardens

The income generated by Ricinz Construction means Indrani can now help even more people. ‘PUM has helped us make so many peoples’ lives better. There have been times when I’ve cried myself to sleep, but thanks to my personnel, I’ve always kept going. They count on me and I will never give up.’ For each job, she takes on trained and untrained staff so that knowledge can be shared. In rural areas, she not only lays out the electrics, she creates vegetable gardens. ‘That way, the villagers can look after themselves. Empowerment is important for everyone and so I will keep telling my story. If I can do it, anyone can.’

Gert van Batenburg (68) had a construction company for 25 years and now works determinedly in development assistance. He has been on three missions so far, to South Africa, Ghana and Tanzania.
Indrani Govender owns Ricinz Construction, a company specialising in construction, electronics and telecommunications. She has 30 employees on permanent contracts and up to 700 staff are hired in on a project basis. She has won various national awards for job creation and empowering women and the young.