Being unemployed in South Africa is a reality I know all too well. But this reality did not sit well with me. I am a mother of two and a mother who wants more for her children than I was exposed to, so being unemployed for three years made me realise I do not want to be a statistic in this battle. Insanity is said to be the result of doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result so I finally had to admit that the futile hunt for a job was over but was not sure what was next? How will I put food on my family’s table? Enter JA South Africa and their offer to provide experiential entrepreneurial skills training.
Dibuseng Phaloane (30) is a recent graduate of the Absa-funded ITS TYME Programme offered during 2015 in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg.
I was a subsistence entrepreneur before joining the ITS TYME Programme – for me to survive, I started selling polony hampers in my community. I provided 41 different hamper options and this kind of variety set me apart resulting in my ability to make 100% profit (purchase price of R70 and selling price of R140). The revenue enabled me to send my 10 year old to a private school in Orange Farm (which caters to her learning needs) and costs R12,000 p.a. excluding transport of R300 per month. But often I was unable to make the monthly commitments to school fees let alone living expenses and I was constantly stressed out by the possibility that my child will be suspended from school. And then in an attempt to expand my business’ reach, I walked to the opposite end of Orange Farm marketing my meat business along the way. This is when I met Jabulani Dlamini at the Orange Farm Skills Centre. He was scheduled to attend the programme and was an advocate for the programme – introducing it to other out-of-work out-of school-youth in Orange Farm and he introduced me to the ITS TYME programme. I am a true believer in fate!
A few weeks into the JA South Africa programme I learned there are alterative ways to grow my business and I increased my product range even further – I began selling rainbow chicken hampers as well. Later, I saw the opportunity to take the same products and open my own store where, in addition to the raw meat products, I sold fast food using my own stock and the profit margins grew exponentially. This decision came off the back of a market research exercise I was encouraged to do on the programme. Now I was able to support my family’s needs as well as purchase equipment for my business. I bought a deep fryer and a fridge and at end of this month (August) I will buy a bigger deep fryer (priced at R3,000) to address the needs of my growing business. My profits have now grown from about R3,000 to about R5,000 – R6,000 per month.
The entrepreneurial bug has now bit. I’ve recently been exposed to an opportunity to sell furniture. My boyfriend, who was an unemployed carpenter, presented his business case to me and since I am not strong in financial acumen, I consulted a fellow student on the ITS TYME programme for guidance on this decision. After an assessment of the business case against my cash flow and savings, I am now able to provide my boyfriend with seed funding of R5,000 into his business based on profits from my food business.
My fellow student on the programme commended me on my business systems when he assisted me with the decision to invest in my boyfriend’s business. During the programme I learned how to record daily, weekly and monthly sales in a more effective manner. So now, at the drop of a hat, I am aware of my business’ financial health. I also realise that I don’t have to do everything in the business and am creating joint ventures with other small business owners – especially those I met on the ITS TYME programme – to support me in areas of business management where I am not strong.
A report from Dibeseng after visiting Alexandra during site visits on the ITS TYME Programme:
“Its business as usual on the streets of Alexandra. Manic doesn’t even begin to describe the scene as cars toot their Hooters while blasting every sound imaginable. The taxi driver dodged his way through the traffic. Our destination was Alexandra, well known for producing prominent, respected entrepreneurs and top politicians. I was amazed by the area itself. There is no space in Alexandra for anything. How can one run a business in such a congested place but JASA creates a culture of entrepreneurship but how possible is it here. I knew that it was important for me to be part of the field trip but I never thought that will change one factor which I thought was an obstacle for me to open my own business. An office, business space for me it could make or break my business. We visited different businesses that had 1 common thing, they are operated against all odds. I found it very amusing and amazing that Tumi the shoe polisher and Valentino the restaurant owner established their businesses in Alex. Vali’s restaurant is on top of a house, there is no space but Valentino managed to run a resurant,bar and clothes shop in one congested area. He used what he could get hold of to build his empire and yes he survives. I’m also very afraid of rats even when they are dead but Tumi managed to run a successful shoe polishing business here. If it was me I was going to observe disadvantages, risks and failure of the business in a place like Alex where rats use rocks to sharpen their teeth. I realised that for one to be an entrepreneur, it starts within,passion,determination and vision may lead me to be a successful business woman. Like Lorenzo, he worked very smart to be where he is today. Due to his hard work he managed to create jobs for more than 100 people. He is a mentor to his fellow employees and partners. I want to achieve, its important that I stop looking for short cuts but use what I have to build a well known respected undertaker company that will create employment for residents of orange farm. I truly treasure what JASA taught me. With the skills I obtained I will be able to conduct myself in a proper manner that will assist me to run a profitable business. Slowly but surely I am going there”
By Dibuseng Phaloane: