Sekela Mpekula is a rising starin the small informal clay brick settlement in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape. Sekela is an accounting graduate born and raised in Queenstown. In 1998 her parents started the business of making clay bricks. Due to her passion for business and love for clay brick making she left her job as an auditor to work with her parents.
Mpekula’s operation consists of a single clamp kiln which produces approximately 30 000 clay bricks, During the CBA’s most recent visit to Queenstown, Mpekula’s ambition as a business woman became much clearer. She is pursuing mining licenses and permits, investigating an extruder and seeking out land where she can mine clay without damaging the environment. All this is being done to formalize her business. It was further learned that her business is quite prominent in the area and the demand for her product far exceeds her production.
Through engagement and workshops, Mpekula and other informal clay brick makers in the region were taught how to improve the quality of their bricks, correct ground preparation and awareness of their impact on water, timber and other resources.
The challenges faced by Mpekula are no different to those faced by both formal and informal brick makers.
- improving ground preparation
- controlling water runoff
- being in a position to let the bricks dry longer before firing for consistency.
- better fuel sources and safe storage
- ensuring consistent clay mixes and standardised preparation methods
- improving moulding and kiln packing