Intense activity and hard work in a convivial atmosphere are all hallmarks of Unit 4, Block 2 at Riversands Incubation Hub. The group of 12 women micro entrepreneurs have taken full advantage of the market opportunities and demand for the goods they make using upcycled billboard fabric as lining for items such as school bags, laptop bags and cosmetic holders.
“My life has improved a lot since I arrived in 2017,” said Veronica Fana, who supports a total of 11 children as well as her parents on the revenue she generates.
Fana was previously a teacher at a crèche in Diepsloot and said that she is no longer struggling to pay her rent and buy food and clothes for her dependants.
Agnes Malepe is proud of the fact that she works seven days a week. “I’m lucky to have so much work to keep me busy. I’m grateful for the opportunity because I have two daughters and three grandchildren who depend on me,” she said. Malepe’s family in Diepsloot sells bags for her and the bookkeeping guidance she has received from the team at Riversands Incubation Hub has enabled her to keep track of her turnover and debtors.
Former domestic worker Gloria Makhote learnt to sew and operate an industrial sewing machine at Riversands Incubation Hub when she arrived two years ago.
“I make school bags which I sell in my home province of Limpopo. I deliver them to customers by taxi – and I give them the option of paying off their purchases,” she explained. Gloria has five children ranging in age from 23 to 11, all of whom live with her in Diepsloot. “Our lives have been improved because of the steady income.”
The textile upcycling project was piloted in 2016 with ten women and went into full swing during 2017, when 350 were trained. Coca-Cola South Africa was the sponsor for those two years and women who enjoy sewing were recruited from local townships to learn both technical sewing skills as well as business basics so that they could become independent micro businesses.
Project leader Lise Kuhle from Eco-Smart commissions them to make a variety of different bags and they have other product lines which they sell both locally and ‘back home’.