HER slight frame dwarfed by the tremendous 18-wheeler she pilots, Phindile Sithole says: “I just love the sound the truck makes and its size. I wanted nothing else. I just wanted to drive a truck.”
She is employed by Engen as a bulk truck operator. These are the professional drivers who ensure that Engen’s petroleum products are safely delivered to customers nationwide.
Due to the physical strength required and the long distances involved, this used to be a male-dominated field, but Phindile is one of 16 young women who are helping drive these stereotypes into the ground.
Rigorously trained by Engen, these ambitious women are hard working, eager and motivated. They are carving out successful futures for themselves with dedicated focus.
Engen is a staunch advocate of socio-economic transformation and is of the view that education is a key enabler in creating a skilled and successful society.
Its passion for contributing towards a better South Africa is evident through various initiatives. Among them is the provision of supplementary mathematics and science education to Grade 10-12 learners and the investment in and nurturing of SMMEs.
The company pursues a holistic approach to empowerment that touches the lives of people and organisations along, and even beyond, supply and value chains.
Engen also deliberately wants more women to enter the petroleum industry.
Sithole is just one of a growing number of African women making inroads into a historically male-dominated industry. Others are women such as Gugu Ncongo and Nosiphiwo Ligwa, the driven joint owners of an Engen service station in Durban.
The duo are testament to the value of never giving up. The resourceful young women only received approval from Engen after their third application. Today, their service station is valued as Engen’s “pride and joy” –their success a shining testimony to the retail-specific training and financial assistance Engen gives to new franchisees. All of which contributes in no small way to the building of sustainable businesses that help bring to fruition seemingly unattainable dreams.
Ncongo and Ligwa’s dreams are not the only ones the petroleum giant has helped come true. Through Engen’s Enterprise and Supplier Development programme, a key element of BEE, game-changing opportunities are powering small business growth with Engen assisting SMMEs to succeed beyond their critical initial three years of operations.
This assistance ranges from providing training and finance to creating sustainable business models for emerging companies.
Engen believes growing and nurturing business skills for emerging entrepreneurs in South Africa will boost employment, improve education levels and help alleviate poverty.
Engen Pitch & Polish gives budding entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch and present their business or idea to an audience, where the feedback loop creates an empowering learning environment.
By helping shape these burgeoning entrepreneurs, most of whom do not form part of Engen’s value chain, the company demonstrates an authentic transformation model, which contributes to the South African economy in a meaningful and highly productive manner.
With retail representing the core of Engen’s business, a partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry and the National Empowerment Fund ensures that Engen continues to facilitate the growth of black female-owned Engen service stations that are well respected and continue to flourish.