D’ville business leader awarded

A Durbanville business woman has the privilege of being selected as a finalist in the 2014 Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition. Theresa Cupido, owner and chief executive officer of ATN Group in Stikland – previously known as ATN Roadmarking and Civils – is one of 14 finalists to advance to the final round in SA’s premier entrepreneurial competition.

The winners will be announced today (3 September) at the official awards breakfast in Johannesburg. Theresa (44) of Welgevonden Estate established her company in August 2006. Her business idea came to her in 2005 while listening to a debate on the radio about the shortage of black South African female entrepreneurs and the need for infrastructure in the country leading up to the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

She was at the time assisting her husband writing reports for the Road Accident Fund (RAF), as well as working as a buyer at one of the top retail companies. It was her involvement with the RAF which led to her interest in the road-mark- ing industry, and as a result Theresa decided to start her business. Since 2006 the business has undertaken a number of projects for the City’s Department of Transport, several municipalities, civil engineers and large property companies.

In 2007 her company was selected by one of the top nine civil and construction companies to form part of their enterprise development programme for emerging contractors. The ATN Group’s successful participation with this programme significantly accelerated the company’s growth.

In 2010 the company diversified, offering to include services such as routine road maintenance, pipe laying, concrete structures and civil engineering. ATN Group now employs between 250 and 300 people, and has grown its employment rate by 100 % in the past year.

Theresa is also the chairperson of the Western and Northern Cape region of the South African Forum for Civil Engineering Contractors(SAFCEC). She says that owning a business and empowering people has always been her dream as she grew up in a family of businessminded individuals. “My mother has always been running her own small business and often involved me,” she said.

Christo Botes, spokesperson for the Entrepreneur of the Year competition, says the 14 finalists operate in various sectors – the most prominent being the services and manufacturing sectors – with 43.9 % from Gauteng and 22.4 % from the Western Cape. “It is encouraging that South African entrepreneurs are not afraid to stand up and take pride in the businesses that they have created. We also are delighted at the growth in the number of black entries as for the first time it grew to more than half the en- tries at 54,7%. Female entries also reached a new high at 31,78 %,” he said.