Oct 2014

Growing the community brick by brick

Written by Noluthando Mkhize
After struggling to find work, 11 people f rom Ga-Chuene village in Limpopo decided to form Baitapishi Brickmaking Cooperative and supply the local community.

The group is made up of five women and six men.

“We realised that making bricks had potential for growth and could help us to earn money. Making bricks is hard work but the good thing about them is they are not perishable, like food, meaning they last longer,” says chairperson of the cooperative Magdeline Mashiane.

The business started in 2004, and they approached the Limpopo Economic Development Agency for assistance.

“The organisation bought us a TLB machine to help with the day-to-day running of the business.”

A typical day at Baitapishi Brickmaking begins at 8:00 in the morning when all members of the cooperative have different roles to play in the business.

“We have people that are in manufacturing, marking the finances – each person has a responsibility.”

The price range for a batch of bricks is from R350 to R480 depending on the size and type of bricks.

She adds that at times the business does encounter difficulty especially when business is slow.

“Sometimes we go up to eight months without payment, but it's part of being in business.”

She adds that they have big plans for the business, which include making bricks for low-cost housing for the community, which are built by the government and involving young people in the business.

“We would like to secure a licence with the South African Bureau of Standard so we can supply to big companies.”

Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu, who visited Baitaphishi Cooperative during International Cooperatives Day, said there is still a lot of work to be done for the cooperative to grow.

Minister Zulu also added that Baitaphishi needed to visit a bigger brickmaking company to learn how to run their business sufficiently.

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