Achieving an SABS certification is a significant feat, and more so for an entrepreneurial venture that, until recently, was considered an emerging enterprise.  But Umzungulu Steel Products is going places, led by founder Bulelani Nxumalo, whose success is attributed to his passion and hard work, and honed by strong mentorship and enabling assistance from the Business Support Centre.

CAPTION: Bulelani Nxumalo with the SABS certificate

Building a business for the love of steel


Bulelani Nxumalo loves steel. It’s a love that has grown over the years, and started while studying. The fascination for the metal took him to Gibb Steel in Gauteng, and later BSi Steel, also in Gauteng.

It was during this period, from 2004 to 2008 that he acquired his steelworking skills and also appreciated the all-pervasive influence of steel in most applications. Nxumalo left Gauteng in 2008 to return home with a dream – to start his own steel fabrication business.

It wasn’t easy, and he knocked on many doors, including that of the Business Support Centre, and Dr May Mashego Mkhize, the First Lady of KZN.

“I approached her in the hope she would be able to open doors for me,” he said.

Using borrowed tools, Nxumalo spent R480 which he received from a sponsor to make two steel hinged windows that he then  showed to various buillding material retailers.

“I got some orders, and was able to get a R15 000 loan from the Ngunezi Foundation that operates from Willowfountain,” he said.

With this money, he bought a cutting machine, welder and grinder, and operating from a modest 50 sq/m premises in Willowfountain, Umzungulu Steel Projects started to make steel windows and door frames.

Nxumalo approached the Human Settlement department in 2009 and was made aware of a proposed rural housing project in Vulindlela, on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg, for the construction of 25 000 houses over a five-year period.