While most South Africans have put the devastating burning, looting and destruction of last year’s civil unrest behind them, many SME business owners cannot.
Before the unrest, they ran small, informal businesses as a means of survival. They literally depend on what they earn day to day to feed their families and pay school fees. They don’t have insurance or other financial safety nets in place. But they are humble, hard working and determined. With absolutely no business skills or training, they managed to identify a gap in the market and turn it into an income-generating opportunity. These are the true entrepreneurs. And they deserve a hand up to help them get back on their feet.
New beginnings – business owners rise above the challenges
Prior to the looting, Mzuvelile owned a successful business, Mega Branding & Supply, printing branded T-shirts for companies.
The protestors looted Mzuvelile’s shop, taking everything they could find, causing over R12 000 worth of damages.
Since Siyabonga Africa stepped in to help, Mzuvelile has bought new printing materials. He dreams of being able to buy a screen printing machine, and having a website to help expand his business.
Khethiwe is the owner of Newanima Enterprise, a small business that specialises in making clothes and uniforms. During the looting, protestors gained entry into the premises and took everything they could find. The estimated cost of the damages was over R18 000.
Since being enrolled in the Siyabonga Africa Business Rescue Project, Khethiwe has been able to buy pre-owned sewing machines in order to continue producing garments. She would like to buy another industrial sewing machine and dreams of opening a factory where she could employ more people.
Nokuthula is the owner of Izithako Zamajeza Pty Ltd – a business that makes herbal health products such as immune boosters and laxatives. It is her sole income and only means of providing for her family.
The shop that stocked Nokuthula’s products on consignment was ransacked during the looting – causing over R12 000 worth of damages to the business.
Thanks to the Siyabonga Africa Business Rescue Project, the business has remained operational and the products are in store again. Nokuthula has also been able to purchase a new stove to make production easier – and she would love a second to increase capacity.
Smangaliso owns a woodwork business called SVM Timber, which manufactures indoor and outdoor furniture.
SVM Timber lost over R85 000 worth of equipment, stock and materials during the looting. Many of the stolen items were pre-paid orders for clients – which left the business facing liquidation, as it had no insurance.
Since Siyabonga Africa stepped in, Smangaliso has been able to replace his machines and remain in business. He would like a website for SVM Timber, as well marketing materials such as banners and a gazebo to promote their products. Smangaliso would love to open his own furniture shop, and also supply other furniture shops.
Pretty Zanele Mkhize
Pretty runs a clothing business, Owethu Umqhele Pty Ltd, that focuses mainly on producing school uniforms. Her business provided an opportunity for other young women to not only learn a skill but also provide for their families.
During the looting, the property she leased was broken into and all her products were stolen. Although the sewing machines were too heavy to move and were undamaged, the estimated cost of the loss was over R20 000.
After being part of the Siyabonga Africa Business Rescue Project, Owethu Umqhele was able to recover from this blow. Pretty dreams of being able to supply school uniforms to big clothing stores. She would also like to have a website for Owethu Umqhele to create more awareness of her business.
Prior to the looting, Nkanyiso ran a successful business called Thembeni Printing Pty Ltd, which manufactured shoes, slippers and sandals. The quality of the products sold by this business is outstanding! And Nkanyiso had already secured a free marketing deal with a well-known social media influencer.
The looters caused damages of over R45 000 when they broke into the business premises and stole products, equipment and machinery. Thanks to the Siyabonga Africa Business Rescue project, Nkanyiso has managed replace machines that were stolen, as well as purchase new materials to make the shoes. Thembeni Printing is back on its feet and has rehired the employees who worked there prior to the looting.
Nkanyiso would like to have shoe boxes for his products. He hopes to open in other provinces and establish his own stores as well.
Bongani Trevor Mkhize
When he couldn’t find a job, Trevor launched his own business – Trevor’s Colddrinks – to support his family. As a street vendor, he needed minimal capital to start up. He bought cooldrinks from a wholesaler, added his mark up, and resold them on the streets. Later, he added biltong to his product range, which he sold to passing motorists. It was a very small business, but brought in enough to support Trevor’s family.
Then came the day of the unrest and looting. Protestors swarmed along the street, helping themselves to all Trevor's stock, his money, and even his cooler trolley! Siyabonga Africa accepted Trevor into our Business Rescue programme, where he gained the knowledge and funding he needed to get back on his feet again.
Trevor’s Cooldrinks and Biltong is now operating again – but is no longer limited to the streets. He also sells at events and corporate functions. Trevor has bought a new cooler trolley, a card machine, has new branded packaging and T-shirts for his sales team.
Looking forward, Trevor would really like to be able to buy a second trolley and dreams of growing his business into a Tuck Shop where more stock can be kept and wider variety of products sold.
Siphiwe is a former school teacher with an Honours degree in Business Administration. In 2019 he quit his job and invested his savings in a piece of land to realise his dream of becoming a farmer. There is no irrigation on the farm, so when there is no rain, he depends on water delivered by municipal trucks.
During last year’s civil unrest, the trucks couldn’t come out and Siphiwe watched helplessly as 55 000 young cabbages the family had planted wilted and died. 600 bunches of freshly picked spinach could not be delivered to the supermarket as planned, because the store fell victim to the looters and had to close its doors.
Siphiwe was left with no fresh produce to sell and hardly any money. Things looked grim. Until he was selected to join our Business Rescue Project. In December, he received a small grant of R3 000.00 toward household expenses. Siphiwe and his daughters decided not to buy groceries for Christmas – but to rather buy seeds, fertilizer and pesticides so they could plant their land again. “When the seeds grow and we sell our produce, then we will have our Christmas,” he said.
Siphiwe’s dream is to export organic fresh vegetables to Dubai and other Middle Eastern countries. He wants to expand his business as an organic producer by replicating his farming methods on new land, and become a leader in organic vegetable farming in the country.
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