SA female in engineering industry awarded Job Creator of the Year title


Theresa Cupido, CEO and owner of Roadmarking and Civil Engineering company, ATN Group (Pty) Ltd, has been named the 2014 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year’s Job Creator of the Year® at an awards ceremony held in Johannesburg this morning. Cupido was recognised due to the significant role she plays in employing and empowering individuals within the industry.

ATN Group employs between 250 and 300 individuals at any given time, and has grown its employment rate by 100% in the last year. The business also has a strict “each one teach one” policy in place, and as part of this programme, both staff and management work to empower students with the relevant industry experience through the ATN Student Learnership Programme which is run in conjunction with the Masisikiswe Programme.

Cupido says that owning a business and empowering people has always been her dream as she grew up in a family of business minded individuals. She explains that as part of the skills development process that the business has implemented, ATN employs both skilled and semi-skilled industry professionals, and ensures that there are tight systems in place to transfer the expertise across all levels.

The business has measures in place to ensure that 2% of annual turnover is spent on training and internship programmes. “In addition, our routine road maintenance contracts are split between local temporary labour and contract employees to establish job creation within the industry. We assist smaller industry players and subcontractors by means of an enterprise development programme, which creates opportunities to become compliant in the industry.”

ATN Group (Pty) Ltd, established in August 2006 by Cupido, has over 100 years of combined expertise and skills in the Roadmarking and Civil Engineering field, and is a 100% black owned company. The company’s diversified service offering include services such as civil engineering, traffic accommodation, road studs, routine road maintenance, pipe laying, concrete structures, sandblasting, and Erosion Protection Works.

Cupido says she is humbled by the award, and that it will inspire her in continually sharing her acquired knowledge, determination and experience with younger, emerging entrepreneurs. “I believe that it is in sharing with others that I am able to grow to greater heights.”

The 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, as well as working as a buyer at one of the top retail companies. Her involvement with the Road Accident Fund is where she developed an interest in the road marking industry, and as a result Cupido made the choice to start her own successful business.

According to Kobus Engelbrecht, a member of the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year ® judging panel, Cupido was selected as the Job Creator of the Year® due to the way in which she has built a business that employs a large number of unskilled workers who would otherwise have been unemployed. “Her achievement is even more remarkable as it is very challenging to create jobs for unskilled workers in a modern economy. She is therefore making a meaningful contribution in reducing unemployment in South Africa.”

In 2007 the business was selected by Martin & East to form part of their Enterprise Development Programme for emerging contractors, and ATN Group’s successful participation in this programme accelerated the company’s growth significantly. Cupido is also a member of the South African Forum for Civil Engineering Contractors (SAFCEC), where she is currently the chairperson of the Western and Northern Cape region.

For more information on ATN Group (Pty) Ltd, please visit