The apex of South African business

Safika Holdings, the South African-based investment holding company, has reached the pinnacles of South African business. The company’s impact is far reaching and as broad as the variety of industries in which it works, including the industrial, gaming, financial services, telecommunications, media and technology sectors.

Safika was founded in 1995 by Johannesburg businessmen Vuli Cuba and Moss Ngoasheng. Ngoasheng is an extremely accomplished local businessman, and has held the esteemed position of economic advisor to the president of South Africa. To this day, the company’s success is credited to these two men. Ngoasheng remains involved with the company while Cuba is presently a share holder. In 2004, South Africa’s largest banking institution, Standard Bank, became an important shareholder in Safika and the two companies in close conjunction for the betterment of the South African business community.

Safika Cement Holdings

The business philosophy of the company is “to take active roles in the companies in which it invests and to vigorously add value to the enterprises. Its management style is designed to foster talent and encourage initiative at all levels.”

For instance, one of Safika Holding’s companies is Safika Cement Holdings, which was formed as the result of a 1996 amalgamation of Castle Cement and IDM Cement. Castle Cement is fast growing and has substantial markets in South Africa and an increasing presence in other southern African countries. Approximately 40 per cent of Castle Cement’s sales are now for the export market, mainly to Swaziland, Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.

Safika works with Castle Cement Castle Cement to augment its contribution as an environmentally friendly business, which has seen the company acquire a modern environmentally friendly plant and using its expertise to help develop new markets.

“There was some synergy in how we could work the two brands together, which now encompasses two different brands,” says Rob Rein, Director. “Because of the merger, there has without a doubt been a big increase in productivity and sales. Every month has been a better month on another month since coming together; the two brands are feeding off of the aspects of each other.”

According to Rein, the IDM brand, a recognized and trusted brand name, is sold to the major retailers and major construction companies and has been used in extensive projects “throughout all areas of South Africa.”

Safika have established a reputation for providing cement of the highest quality and the affordable best option for people buying cement in areas of South Africa. “You have the big three companies and then there is us. We give the client an option of good service and a quality product at the right price. We have a very good footprint in our selling areas, with clients located throughout South Africa,” says Rein.

Diversification strategy

The company’s current strategy will see it continue to move throughout Africa, into countries such as Zimbabwe and Mozambique and Zambia. “We manufacture all-purpose, 2.5 MPA cement. We sell it through retailers, who sell it to home builders, office builders, factory builders, etc. Our shareholders include 55 per cent with Safika Holdings, and the remaining held by the management and operational directors,” says Rein.

Safika has a firm position in the fluctuating cement market and maintains a steady market holding throughout its ebbs and flows. “Moving forward, we want to continue what we are doing,” says Rein, of his company’s realistic diversification strategy.

“The cement market is very much up and down. You shift your customer base continuously. We want to maintain our customer base moving forward. We want to fill our capacity with growth,” he says.

The company is poised to do just that. One of the Safika’s largest assets is its private, own state-of-the-art milling facility, where a vast quantity of molding takes place. It is the backbone of this business; Safika is the only independent cement producer in South Africa that can produce this.
The facility allows for an increase in research and development and quality control, which leads to an increase in financial stability and healthy balance books, something the competition cannot rival. “This is the main factor that separates us from our direct line three major competitors, the quality of our and our financial stability,” says Rein.

Esteemed BEE program

The company is 66 per cent black-owned, and a holds a distinguished place in the country’s BEE policies. Between Safika and its subsidiaries, 80 per cent of the company’s 1,500 employees are previously disadvantaged individuals.

“We employ in excess of 150 people and we started the company 12 years ago we had maybe 15 people for each Castle Cement and IDM Cement,” says Rein. “We also employ a lot of sub-contractors to do our transport and that can be between 10 trucks per factory, with four or five people per truck.”

Safika, a company that emerged out of the end of apartheid, is a shining example of prosperity and success for South Africa. By marrying strong business ethics with a stalwart dedication to quality, the impact of Safika is not only felt in the business sector but across society.