Bigen Africa appointed Ruan Minnaar as Human Capital and Marketing Director. He is a dynamic executive with an excellent academic, business and personal record across a wide range of disciplines.
“Ruan is a focused and performance-driven executive with a strategic mind-set and a proven ability to deliver long-term value,” says Anton Boshoff, Bigen Africa CEO.
He started his career as a business economics teacher at the Langenhoven, and later, Garsfontein High Schools in Pretoria, where his strategic approach, analytical skills, innovative thinking, and leadership qualities were immediately recognised at local and at provincial level.
In 2008, he joined the health and nutrition organisation, Your Life, to launch its Pretoria branch with 24 staff members, following his passion of working with people. There he structured and implemented programmes and policies in the areas of training, compensation structures, benefits and incentive packages and employee orientation. His management style followed an open-door approach to foster teamwork and positive dialogue, which, combined with dynamic marketing initiatives, saw the business establish and rapidly grow its footprint.
In 2013, he joined Angel Lifestyle, a direct sales company, as managing director with his main responsibilities being sales and business development in 12 African countries. A natural leader, he successfully led a team of 600 000 sales consultants and 150 professional staff members in eight branches. The depth of his governance exposure increased to include strategic business plans and liaison with governments and regulatory bodies. On a business level, he achieved success with innovative, strategic ideas to improve workflow and introduce technology efficiencies, driving costs down and improving the gross profit margin. He remained active in his involvement in human-capital, revising existing and implementing new policies and generally streamlining the HR processes.
Towards the end of 2009, Ruan founded and ran Dunamis Properties, recruiting and building a team of 30-odd agents in three cities, eventually achieving sales in excess of R150 million a year. Factors behind his success included championing diversity, introducing leadership initiatives and maintaining a culture of appreciation for staff achievements. His business acumen is underpinned by an MBA in general management from the Regent University in Virginia Beach, USA.
Some five years later Ruan returned to the human-capital arena where his passion lies, and joined CCI Consulting as a strategic consultant. He established the Leadership Academy, achieving master-training status for all of European Xpand’s products, processes and training materials. Overseeing a team of ten consultants across the country, he was responsible for implementing strategic leadership-development programmes at businesses, and non-profit and educational organisations.
In 2015, Ruan was the co-founder of Lifework Leadership, a group of business professionals who are eager to create a platform to develop a strong community of Christian business leaders in Pretoria. The Lifework Leadership programme is designed for leaders who desire transformation from the inside out and has benefitted a number of prominent leaders in the transformation of their companies, churches and communities, across vocation, denomination and race. Ruan continues to lead this programme in his capacity as Executive Director of Lifework Leadership.
Ruan’s experience across the full business spectrum, in various sectors and across the African continent, makes him ideally suited to guide and manage the Bigen Africa human capital strategy and implementation. His proven expertise in talent selection and retention, performance monitoring and strategic relationship building, combined with his management approach in terms of risk management, governance and problem-solving, will guide Bigen Africa’s Human Capital Department to contribute in no small way to the group achieving its Vision objectives.
Ruan Minnaar, described as a communicator par excellence, an activator, maximiser and inspirational leader, took up his position at Bigen Africa on 1 January 2017.
Solutions-driven infrastructure development group, Bigen Africa, has appointed Henk Bester as Managing Director of its Transport directorate. Bester, formerly managing director of rail at Hatch Consultants, will play a key role in driving the group’s business development goals, which include growing its road, rail and transport logistics capabilities.
“Bigen Africa’s Transport directorate is expected to play a prominent role in helping to unlock economic progress in Africa through the development of transport systems that are critical for bulk cargo transportation and regional integration driven by governments,” says Anton Boshoff, Bigen Africa’s Chief Executive Officer. “Road and rail, specifically, are critical to growing economies in Africa, where most bulk commodities are landlocked and remote from ports. On the continent, many of the major consulting companies have relatively small rail groups and depend on a few specialists to catalyse major rail projects.
“The appointment of Henk Bester will ensure that the Transport directorate will continue to maximise its capabilities so that it is fully able to meet the unique and often urgent needs of our different clients throughout the continent.”
Based on his extensive local and international industry experience, proven strategic leadership skills and impressive track record in growing business capacity, Bester has the expertise and qualities needed to meet – and exceed – these expectations. A registered professional civil engineer, he has blazed a career trail of note across South Africa and globally since completing his BEng (Civil) degree at the University of Stellenbosch and joining Spoornet (now Transnet), where, at 24 years of age, he became the youngest district engineer at the time. He soon progressed to national lead and coordinator for all mobile heavy on-track maintenance machines and to senior engineer in the Western Cape district with responsibilities from Cape Town to De Aar. His solid transport grounding includes exposure to the George Koch Track Testing Centre in Jeppestown and the heavy-haul Sishen-Saldanha rail line, the world leader in high axle load on narrow gauge track.
Subsequently joining R&H Railway Consultants in Randburg, Bester progressed to the position of managing director within four years, expanding the company from 15 to 70 employees by the end of 2008. Since 2006, he was involved in Hatch, first as sub-consultant and since 2008 progressing quickly to global director and head of rail.
Having built a rail team globally with a major focus in countries such as Africa, Australia and Brazil, Bester was promoted to managing director of Hatch International and was instrumental in securing the Transnet Manganese Phase 2 project for the Hatch, MottMcDonald and Aurecon JV, for which he was also appointed Project Director.
As a leader in rail, he enjoys global recognition and has been involved in various challenging international projects for clients all over the world, such as Anglo American, Arcellor Mittal, Vale, BHP Billiton and African Rainbow Minerals. He was also instrumental in growing a formidable rail group and business for Hatch outside Canada, which became the biggest privately owned rail consultancy in Africa.
Bester is a fellow member of the South African Institute of Civil Engineers (SAICE), and registered at ECSA as professional engineer (Pr Eng) and as professional construction manager at the South African Council for Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPMP). He served on the SAICE Membership and Railway and Harbour Committees.
Henk joined Bigen Africa on 1 October 2016. The company, established in 1971, now employs over 400 full-time professionals in 17 offices (operational offices, project offices and an office in Mauritius) throughout Africa. Bigen Africa’s proven expertise in engineering and advisory services forms the core of a product offering that proactively seeks the best outcome for client, community and country. Bigen Africa’s mantra of “doing good while doing business” underpins the group’s full value chain of infrastructure development activism to change lives through positive and sustainable infrastructure development in five key sectors namely real estate, energy, water, health and transport. The group’s value proposition is further supported by its partnership strategy to formally integrate the group’s partners within its delivery model and ultimately the capital structure to enhance mutual value creation and incentives for all partners participating in its structure.
Bigen Africa, a leading multinational provider of sustainable infrastructure development solutions with a particular focus on “doing good while doing business”, has set itself an audacious fundraising target for 2016 – to hand over R2 million to various beneficiaries by the end of September 2016.
This bold decision was taken last year, after the Group had met its target of raising R1 million through its Akaretsa CSI campaign which was generously supported by employees as well as partners, suppliers and clients. Encouraged by this success, Bigen Africa decided to double its target for this year.
“A social conscience is a part of the Bigen Africa DNA,” says Anton Boshoff, Chief Executive Officer. “It is an integral aspect of the corporate culture. With an official creed of ‘doing good while doing business’, the Group has a rich history of being active in CSI, undertaking developmental projects to benefit local communities beyond commercial value or demand. In 2014, management also established the Akaretsa campaign to support various non-profit organisations.”
The funds raised in 2015 were donated to various beneficiaries – skills developer POPUP, Mamelodi Hospice, the charitable trust Funanani and Vanani Primary School near East London. Some of the funds were also used to purchase a minibus for Word for the Nations Ministries in Bon Accord and a scholarship to University College Dublin was given to Sifiso Kumalo of Orlando West. With expansion into Africa being a major goal of the Bigen Africa Group, substantial donations were also given to the companies’ social partners in Ghana, Zambia and Botswana.
Fundraising efforts included Bigen Africa’s annual Golf Day, a fun event for all stakeholders involving golf challenges, prizes, sponsorships, and auction and branding opportunities. Partners and clients were furthermore invited to participate in this drive by contributing towards the Akaretsa Fund.
“The success of Bigen Africa’s Akaretsa campaign is rooted in the Group’s commitment to socio-economic upliftment,” says Boshoff, “and the fact that so many of our stakeholders have adopted this philosophy to participate in our initiatives. As we see the results of our efforts – countless lives being improved, doors opening thanks to training and development, and the sick receiving the care they need – we are rewarded and encouraged to keep ‘doing good while doing business’.”
Meaningful, positive and lasting change
As part of Bigen Africa’s CSI drive, the Group has also entered into a partnership agreement with Tshikululu Sustainable Solutions, South Africa’s leading CSI manager. This partnership hones Bigen Africa’s ability to assist its clients to develop social development strategies that are designed to achieve, meaningful, positive and long-lasting change.
“In line with the Group’s vision – to improve quality of life through the development of sustainable infrastructure solutions – projects undertaken help to ensure access to services, reduce poverty, build capacity and generate opportunities for increased economic participation and employment.” says Boshoff. “The cornerstones of this vision are job creation, SMME development, targeted procurement, community liaison through ward councillors, and local labour emancipation and remuneration management.”
In this, partnering with Tshikululu affords Bigen Africa a competitive edge, thereby optimising the economic, social and environmental development impact of infrastructure development projects for governments, clients and communities. Through its in-house capabilities and strategic partnerships, Bigen Africa is able to integrate the entire value chain in providing engineering, management consulting, development financing and advisory services, and has successfully delivered many cost-effective, sustainable infrastructure projects in South Africa and several other African countries. Numerous industry awards attest to Bigen Africa’s unwavering quality focus and service excellence.
Please contact Bigen Africa’s Akaretsa Manager, Gilliam Swiegers on: Tel: +27 12 843 9012 should you wish to make a contribution to this worthy cause.
The CEO of infrastructure development company Bigen Africa, Dr Snowy Khoza, has been elevated to Executive Chairperson of the Bigen Group of Companies, effective 1 July 2016. The repositioning allows her more time to increase her involvement on a strategic level, to boost the group’s expansion in and outside the African continent, to deal with international strategic partners and investors, international development-financing institutions and, to chair the company boards within the Bigen group across various sectors.
Outgoing non-executive chairman, Dr Iraj Abedian [who remains a member of the Board], is excited about Dr Khoza stepping into an executive role at a higher level. “She delivered a sterling performance in executing the five-year strategy (S-Vision 2016) cycle which ends this year. Her accolades support the shareholders’ 100% vote to her new position – she was recently recognised as an International African Women in business by London-based Women4Africa and awarded Top Performing Business Leader in South Africa, after receiving a Lifetime Achiever’s Award as one of the most influential women in Africa.”
Snowy looks forward to her new role, underscoring the fact that: “Bigen Africa is in an exciting growth phase – not only are we extending our strategic partnerships to bolster our service offering on the continent, we are also expanding into new sectors such as health. I look forward to a vibrant period in the group’s growth and I thank Dr Abedian for his leadership support and guidance throughout. I am pleased to still have Anton Boshoff as my right hand having worked together for the past six years.”
Anton who has been appointed as CEO says: “It is reassuring to still have our dynamic leader to lead the way in Bigen Africa. Dr Khoza’s track record is impeccable, as reflected by our robust financial results, reach and development impact outcomes of our infrastructure delivery over the past five years.”
Bigen Africa, a solutions-driven infrastructure development Group based in South Africa with a growing Africa footprint, has set itself an ambitious target of R2 million for its Akaretsa fundraising campaign this year. So far, the Group has surprised contributors, beneficiaries, the public (and even itself!) by raising the bar significantly every year since launching Akaretsa in 2013 with its first target of R50 000 – and making target every time!
“Bigen Africa is no stranger to the challenges of fundraising,” says Dr Snowy Khoza, Chief Executive Officer. “The Group’s team of ‘engineers with a conscience’ have shown their total commitment since 2013, when R50 000 was raised and donated to selected non-profit organisations. In 2014, Bigen Africa aimed to raise R500 000 and in 2015, raised the bar even further to R1 million – and achieved these targets every time!”
Spurred on by its highly successful fundraising campaign last year, Bigen Africa decided to double the target amount this year and aim for R2 million.
“In fact, the Group exceeded its target last year, as a result of a very active campaign which included the annual Bigen Golf Day, employee contributions of non-billable time, tithing by management and CSI contributions,” says Dr Khoza. “The Bigen Africa team itself gives generously of its time, effort and funds. However, the Akaretsa campaign is also very generously supported by the Group’s partners, suppliers and other stakeholders, without whom it would not have been possible to make target.”
Making a difference
Proceeds from the Akaretsa campaign are earmarked for various non-profit organisations in the areas where the Group has undertaken infrastructure development projects. Social partners who have benefitted from the 2015 campaign include POPUP; Mamelodi Hospice; Funanani; Word for the Nations Ministries; Saint Theresa’s Parish and the Lighthouse Ministries in Ghana; and In-Community Care for Orphans in Zambia. Through these funds, most of it generously donated by the Group’s partners and suppliers, these beneficiaries had the means to improve hopeless lives, educate those with no future and care for the terminally ill.
“Bigen Africa is deeply grateful to all contributors whose simple actions of donating have lightened the heavy burdens of many,” says Dr Khoza. “We appeal to our stakeholders and even the public to participate in Akaretsa and again help make a difference to many needy people this year.”
The Akaretsa campaign reflects the inclusive culture of the Group, which partners with stakeholders in both business and CSI initiatives. This year, fundraising activities will include sponsorship of employees in mass participation events such as the comrades and Iron Man, a gala fundraising event, an internal divisional target challenge and encouragement of external donations.
The Group’s enthusiasm for a good cause is inspired by its creed of “doing good while doing business”, which is not only applied to fundraising and CSI, but also in the communities where projects are undertaken. Here, “doing good” means channeling job and procurement opportunities to local community members.
Bigen Africa provides innovative infrastructure solutions at sites across South Africa as well as in several other African countries. With its vision of improving the quality of life through the development of sustainable infrastructure solutions, the Group integrates the entire value chain through in-house capabilities and strategic partnerships, providing engineering, management consulting, development financing and advisory services on cost-effective, sustainable infrastructure projects.
Make your contributions!
Anyone interested in contributing to Akaretsa, can please contact Kesvin Govender on Tel: 012 – 842 8743 or e-mail: email@example.com.
Bigen Africa Group’s fourth integrated annual report, for the financial year ended September 2015, provides an overview of sustainable achievements in market penetration, operational efficiencies, financial prudence, enhanced governance protocols and social economic development. Some highlights include:
The company’s objective of “doing good while doing business” is now firmly established and has resulted in value-add for communities where infrastructure projects are undertaken, as well as significant tangible benefits for several non-profit organisations.
Bigen Africa initiated many large projects during the year, for both the private and public sectors, including;
Bigen Africa’s growth strategy has resulted in a sustainable pipeline of work and the company structure and workforce have been adjusted to accommodate growth.
Bigen Africa’s chairman – Dr Iraj Abedian, said he is ‘grateful to all its stakeholders for their belief in its vision to create wealth and development impact, as well as to Dr Snowy Khoza, Chief Executive Officer for her visionary leadership; Bigen Africa EXCO and management for their commitment and interventions and staff for their dedication, loyalty and support’.
For more information on developments at Bigen Africa, follow the link to access the 2015 Annual Report.
In a move to hone its ability to assist public and private clients to achieve their infrastructure and social and economic development objectives, leading African infrastructure development company Bigen Africa entered into a partnership with social development company Tshikululu Sustainable Solutions.
“Our objective is to optimise the impact of our social-development activities, because the value of infrastructure development goes far beyond commercial gain – it includes the sustainable and socially desirable benefits it offers communities. Infrastructure should provide access to services, reduce poverty, build capacity and generate opportunities for increased economic participation and employment. Tshikululu has the experience and skills to optimise our social investments to the benefit of communities in the areas where we manage projects,” says Dr Snowy Khoza, Bigen Africa chief executive officer.
“Tshikululu is excited by the prospect of working with Bigen Africa. Bigen Africa’s social focus is aptly described by their vision, to develop sustainable infrastructure to improve the quality of life, and underpinned by their pay-off line, doing good while doing business,” says Dr Mthandazo Ngwenya, Tshikululu managing director. “This resonates with our own belief of making a lasting social and economic difference to communities.”
At Bigen Africa, project proposals to customers contain five key elements, namely equity, local content and participation, empowerment and transformation outcomes, cultural preservation and social mobility and improvements in quality of life. The company combines these elements to optimise the economic, social and environmental development impact of the project for customers and the communities that benefit from the projects.
Anton Boshoff, Bigen Africa chief operating officer, recalls the Bigen Africa learning curve towards achieving sustainability.
“We worked at root level with people who were not exposed to normal employment opportunities, in rural areas such as Winterveldt, Mabopane, Garankuwa, Temba, Gianyi , Transkei, Venda, Kwandebele. We overcame challenges of the time and to learn the languages, cultures and customs. We realised that infrastructure becomes more sustainable if one is sensitive to local participation – and that local participation can escalate to local economic participation, which can lead to local economic development.
“For these reasons, we set ourselves stringent targets for the business and the impact of our projects on the lives of the communities that we work in. These targets are linked to job creation, meaningful local economic participation in projects through a range of initiatives that focus mainly on SMME development, targeted procurement to include women and the youth, community liaison to improve communication to communities through ward councillors, and local labour emancipation and remuneration management in consultation with the larger contractors, SMME’s and ward councillors,” says Mr Boshoff.
He says the Tshikululu-Bigen partnership offers a holistic approach through best practice focussed on outcomes-orientated solutions that offer customers peace of mind.
“Tshikululu achieves success by helping its clients to develop social development strategies that are designed to achieve meaningful, positive, and long-lasting change. We develop customised performance-management systems and plan for improvement by conducting specialist reviews of individual projects and broader programmes. These three elements foster understanding of the impact of social-investment initiatives,” says Dr Ngwenya.
Tshikululu currently manages five of the top ten corporate funds with the greatest development impact as ranked by NPOs and three of the top 10 as ranked by corporates in South Africa. The company has more than R2 billion under fund management and has achieved unqualified audits from Deloitte for the past 17 years.
Bigen Africa has been involved with mega projects throughout Africa and has recently expanded its legal and physical presence from South Africa, Namibia and Botswana to include Zambia and Ghana.
“The experience and objectives of both Bigen Africa and Tshikululu make them ideal to participate in the government’s National Development Plan, an ambitious project that aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030,” says Dr Khoza.
The plan will be project-managed to draw on the energies of the South African people, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capacity of the state and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society. This will result in creating more jobs, empowering people through skills development, expanding economic infrastructure, developing sustainable communities and advancing social cohesion.
At this stage, government plans for infrastructure spend over the next three years include:
Bigen Africa has been lauded for its meaningful contribution to social and economic development. The company bases its decisions on a social development theory adopted by South Africa and most African countries in infrastructure development, namely to achieve qualitative changes in the structure and framework of households, communities, societies and countries to better realise their aims and objectives in improving the quality of life. The company strives to drive social and economic change through a better understanding, knowledge and application of clients’ expectations of development impacts.
“This approach supports the essence of sustainable development as expressed in a frequently-used definition, namely to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” says Dr Khoza.
Examples of sustainable-development projects undertaken by Bigen Africa include:
Landmark projects undertaken by Tshikululu include:
Current projects that can immediately benefit through increased development impact from this partnership include the following:
In his current role as COO of Bigen Africa, he is responsible for strategic planning, risk management, project integration, the Group’s Africa expansion programme, mergers and acquisitions.
Bigen has developed many cost effective solutions on the continent with a passion for “Doing Good while doing Business”. The company has grown a solid reputation for service excellence, high ethics and undertaking projects with strong social development outcomes such as improved access to services, reduction in poverty, community empowerment, capacity building, regional integration and indigenisation.
Under his leadership as commercial director for the company, the company and management team has won numerous awards in recent years as testimony to its business excellence including the National Business Awards: Infrastructure Development Company of the Year 2015, various annual CESA Business Excellence awards, PMR Gold and Bronze awards, Impumelelo Award for Empowerment, Ten Best Companies to work for, SA Top 300 Managed Companies, Top 2 Managed Engineering Companies
“I am very blessed and honoured by this appointment,” says Boshoff. “For me personally, and for Bigen Africa, being associated with CESA and its stringent code of conduct is a huge honour. Bigen Africa similarly upholds the highest level of business ethics.”
CESA is the hallmark of credibility in South Africa, charged with the role of promoting excellence in the consulting engineering industry on behalf of its members. Through its members, it seeks to continuously improve the quality of life for all people, by interpreting the environment and pioneering change in partnership with all its key stakeholders.
All members are obliged to comply with CESA’s strict Business Integrity Management System (BIMS) as a condition of membership.
“Bigen Africa appreciates CESA’s commitment to integrity and, Bigen Africa’s vision to be the preferred African provider of sustainable infrastructure solutions improving quality of life, also resonates with CESA’s mission to improve the quality of life for all South Africans by promoting engineering excellence,” says Boshoff.
Boshoff has completed BEng (Civil) and Project Management qualifications, and is a member of the South African Institute of Civil Engineers; South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions; and Institute of Municipal Engineering of Southern Africa.
“South Africa is in the grip of a severe drought which is seriously impacting 2,7 million households desperate for drinking water, and threatening the existence of farmers, the lives of their livestock and the stability of the country’s economy,” warns Dr Snowy Khoza, Chief Executive Officer of Bigen Africa, an African solutions-driven infrastructure development Group.
With the vision to improve the quality of life of all through the development of sustainable infrastructure solutions, the Group provides engineering, management consulting, development finance and advisory services with an emphasis on providing innovative solutions to meet individual needs. As a thought leader with a strong “environmental conscience”, Bigen Africa is now challenging its employees to take action in addressing the needs of drought-stricken communities.
“Five of the nine provinces are in dire need,” says Dr Khoza, a recognised continental business leader, passionate social activist and champion of human rights. “To help ensure that the struggling communities have access to both drinking water and that needed for other purposes, Bigen Africa is now proactively supporting Water Shortage SA in its efforts to supply bottled water to the regions with the greatest need. As part of our Employee Volunteer Programme, we have asked our employees to donate bottled water every Friday, which the Group will then take to the Water Shortage SA collection points.
“The aim is to collect 2 000 litres of potable water per week and we appeal to all South African companies to join this much-needed initiative and set up their own regular collection and delivery system to help ensure that South Africa’s thirsty communities have access to life-giving water. Alternatively, they are welcome to drop off their bottles at any of the Bigen Africa branches across South Africa.”
Doing good while doing business
The Group is responding to the present need based on its creed of “doing good while doing business”, but is also well aware of the ongoing nature of Africa’s water and other environmental problems.
“It is part of the Group’s mandate to include a focus on environmental imperatives in providing infrastructure development services aimed at transforming the lives of tens of thousands of impoverished and socially deprived Africans,” says Dr Khoza. “It is a necessary response to the need for environmental sustainability.”
A good example is Bigen Africa’s project involvement with the Luvuvhu River Government Water Scheme in the Thohoyandou region of South Africa. The Group was appointed by the Department of Water Affairs to undertake the design, construction monitoring and administration of various pipeline upgrades.
Bigen Africa was also appointed the site supervision and contract management service provider for the Clanwilliam Dam structure in the Cederberg Local Municipality, which includes raising the wall from its current height of 43m to 56m. This project was commissioned by the Department of Water and Sanitation, and will result in an additional 70 million cubic metres of water a year flowing to farmers downstream.
Another fine example is Bigen Africa’s appointment by the Botswana Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources as its Employer’s Representative for the conceptual design development, EPC tender documents and construction supervision of the 360km North-South Carrier (NSC-2) regional water transfer system in Botswana. Bigen Africa won the Best International Project category in the 2015 Consulting Engineers South Africa annual awards for engineering excellence, enhanced regional economic growth and improved quality of life in Botswana while, most importantly, averting a major water supply catastrophe in Gaborone.
“As Bigen Africa continues to expand its activities into the continent, it will persist in promoting social, economic, technical, financial, and environmental benefits, taking into account the recent Paris Agreement protocols reached by countries urging governments, business and civil society to incorporate sustainability practices into their daily activities,” says Dr Khoza. Working with governments, business and civil society as partners, Bigen Africa is geared to also address some of the continent’s environmental issues ingeniously, in order to ensure sustainability and the survival of mankind, and our planet as we know it!
“On our beautiful continent, there are various issues besides frequent water shortages, such as food insecurity, air and solid waste pollution, poor and aging infrastructure and bad agricultural practices such as overgrazing, intensive pesticide use and soil erosion, which we need to be mindful of.”
Dr Snowy Khoza, Chief Executive Officer of the Bigen Africa Group, was named National Business Leader of the Year at the 13th National Business Awards event at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park on 19 November 2015.
Bigen Africa, a leading solutions-driven infrastructure development Group with a firm foothold in southern Africa and a fast-growing Africa footprint, was also honoured at the National Business Awards – which have been described as “the Oscars of South African Business” – by being named Infrastructure Development Company of the Year. Bigen Africa provides value-based and integrated engineering, management consulting, development financing and advisory services.
The National Business Awards are organised on an annual basis, in collaboration with Top Performing Companies, to celebrate exceptional business organisations and inspirational business leaders from various industries for their outstanding performance in the world of business and government.
Social activist and champion of transformation
“These awards recognise the finest talents and organisations that South Africa has to offer,” says Dr Iraj Abedian, Chairman of the Bigen Africa Board. Nominees include some of the largest South African businesses such as Bigen Africa, the Billion Group, Kumba Iron Ore, Aspen Pharmacare, Alexander Forbes, Woolworths and Absa Bank.
“As Chairman of the Bigen Africa Board, I find it particularly gratifying that the Group’s vision and its insistence on the highest standards of performance are in line with the awards’ mission ‘to better our people, planet and profits through excellence’,” says Dr Abedian. “These goals also agree with Dr Khoza’s personal philosophy as a dedicated business leader, social activist and a champion of transformation.”
Since being appointed at Bigen Africa in 2010, Dr Khoza has led its evolution from an engineering firm to an infrastructure development Group, also introducing its “doing good while doing business” philosophy which includes ensuring that employment and procurement opportunities arising from projects are channelled to the local communities as far as possible.
Dr Khoza’s concern for others is rooted in both her own experience of an impoverished youth underpinned by her strong Christian faith imparted by the grandmother who raised her.
“With tenacity and determination, she has overcome financial constraints and other hardships to complete various qualifications including an MBA and a PhD in Social Policy,” comments Dr Abedian “and has become the first black woman to lead an infrastructure development Group and set it on a highly successful course.”
With core capabilities in engineering, management consulting and project finance, Bigen Africa provides sustainable infrastructure development solutions to African clients by integrating the entire value chain through in-house capabilities and strategic partnerships. The Group’s growing African footprint includes an established South African base of eight branches and 4 project offices as well as offices in Ghana, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia.
“With her proven ability to optimise company outcomes in a results-orientated work environment without compromising on quality or service standards, Dr Khoza has ensured both organic and business development for the Group,” says Dr Abedian. “This has resulted in positive revenue growth and a strong balance sheet, despite the many global economic uncertainties which have been afflicting businesses for a while”.
A visionary leader
“An enthusiastic, visionary and hard-working leader, Dr Khoza has inspired her team and together they have expanded the Group’s Africa footprint, highlighting its capability as ‘an African company providing African infrastructure solutions for African countries’, and securing mega infrastructure development projects in various African locations.
“As a testimony to her drive and insight into the continent’s infrastructure development needs, Dr Khoza was the only woman invited to present at the Infrastructure Development conference held in Khartoum, Sudan in 2014, and at various other infrastructure conferences in Zambia and Ghana.”
Within the Bigen Africa Group, Dr Khoza has ensured capacity building through the implementation of a corporate governance policy, efficiencies and controls; human resources and performance management systems; a formalised internal audit function as well as strategic management processes and, last but not least, has ensured a “zero tolerance for theft and corruption” stance across the Group.
“Having contributed to Bigen Africa’s reputation for service excellence and high ethics, Dr Khoza has been personally recognised for her unwavering integrity, most recently by being named the winner in the Business category of the recognition awards presented annually by Unashamedly Ethical,” says Dr Abedian. “The awards are aimed at honouring men, women and organisations exhibiting excellent character and commitment to ethical behaviour in a way which has positively impacted the lives of people around them, or the communities where they live and operate.”
In 2014, Dr Khoza was also one of five South Africans awarded Continental Lifetime Achiever status at a gala dinner honouring Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government. She also received the CESA Young Professionals Forum (YPF) Recognition Award for special achievements and sterling contributions to, as well as for uplifting the role of women in, the construction industry and consulting engineering profession.
Dr Abedian emphasises that the tremendous recognition and respect Dr Khoza receives is not only for her proven business acumen, but also for her personal integrity and compassion for the underprivileged put into action. “In her personal life, Dr Khoza is deeply involved in initiatives for improving the quality of life of disadvantaged people and continually strives to create sustainable support systems for children and families in need of care, impoverished and disabled people, youth at risk and women living in marginalised black communities. She has, for example, established the Snowy Khoza Trust, which assists children and child prisoners in obtaining an education.”
With her passion for people, unwavering principles and visionary business approach, Dr Khoza has helped to chart a highly successful course for Bigen Africa, even in the most challenging of economic and political climates, and firmly established the Group as a major stakeholder in the vital business of closing Africa’s infrastructure gap.
“I am pleased that Dr Khoza, and the Bigen Africa Group, have received these accolades,” says Dr Abedian. “Based on her insightful leadership of an outstanding team of ‘engineers with a conscience’, the Group has become a leader in the infrastructure development industry, not only realising its vision of improving the quality of life through the development of sustainable infrastructure solutions, but also adding value by ‘doing good while doing business’.”