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Mentors needed

Hermanus Siyakha was launched late in 2018, yet the business mentoring programme has started bearing fruit.

The non-profit company was established in the wake of destructive riots that rocked Hermanus throughout 2018, with the aim of building bridges between people with resources and skills and those in need of resources and mentors.

Entrepreneurs from Zwelihle agree that Hermanus Siyakha came at just the right time, to help them rebuild their small and micro-businesses, which suffered great losses as result of the ongoing protests last year.

“Nobody could go to work so they didn’t have money to buy the products in our shop,” explained Simphiwe Ngqoyiyana, who helps his wife Nolubabalo Ngqoyiyana to run a Spaza shop in Zwelihle. “This meant we didn’t have money to buy stock or support ourselves, so we had to start using some of the merchandise to survive.”

Gap in the marketNolubabalo initially started off by only selling sweets and chips at a school, but decided to expand when her young customers started arriving at her house after school to buy their snacks.

Simphiwe and Nolubabalo agree that they wouldn’t have come this far without the assistance of Hermanus Siyakha and their mentor Brian Wridgway.

Jerry van Niekerk, director and chairperson of Hermanus Siyakha, says the mentors form the heart of this initiative.

They assist applicants with their loan applications and teach them important skills such as business and financial management, to ensure that the business will remain sustainable.

A brief summary of the applicant and his/her business is loaded onto Siyakha’s website.

The site offers members of the public the option either to make a donation to the project or to provide a certain amount towards the interest-free loan.

This works on the principle of crowd funding.

With their loan Nolubabalo and Simphiwe could buy a wide variety of products to cater for their clients’ needs. They have added bread, tea, sugar, eggs, mealie meal, cooldrink, and much more to the range of products they stock.

ExpandingThe couple have a feeling for business, but Wridgway taught them the finer points such as bookkeeping. He also assisted them with acquiring shelves to display their products.

With these new business skills Nolubabalo, Simphiwe and their son Owethu now dream of expanding their business even further.

“The customers are looking for meat so we are considering selling sausages, russians and chicken,” Simphiwe added. “We are also thinking about starting a tshisa nyama (place where people can enjoyed braaied meat) once we get our own house.”

Hope“Hermanus Siyakha has given us hope,” said Simphiwe. “I was unemployed but now I have confidence when I wake up because I have a purpose.

Nolungile “Beauty” Dumileyo, who sells offal and other meat products, such as sausage and pork, is another entrepreneur who has benefited from Hermanus Siyakha’s assistance. With her loan she bought a deep freezer, which enables her to buy larger quantities of stock as well as a bigger variety of products.

Beauty says her mentor Stephné Herselman, a founder of Hermanus Siyakha, taught her many important things.

“Stephné told me I shouldn’t only sell meat but also other products like cooldrink, ice-cream and cigarettes.”

Herselman is confident that Beauty’s business will succeed. “She is very conscientious, and I believe she will make a big success of this,” she says.

Will to succeed Christabelle “Bella” Kepkar, Nobahle Stemela and Neliswa Mteto say Hermanus Siyakha helped them to revive their joint business, which was brought to its knees by the effects of the riots.

The three women bought and sold chickens to supplement their incomes as domestic workers and a home-based carer.

“We lost a lot during the riots because we couldn’t get out to buy the chickens in Philippi, and a lot of people lost their work so they couldn’t afford to buy anything,” said Kepkar. “But we refused to give up because we needed the money to survive.”

With the help of a loan from Siyakha and mentoring by Ina Hamilton the three women have rebuilt their business to such an extent that they are dreaming of expanding.

“Ina taught us about bookkeeping, how to advertise our products and how to treat our customers,” Kepkar added. “We have so much more confidence now, we can dare to dream big.”NeedVan Niekerk says they have been inundated by applications since the launch.

“This has led to the need for mentors,” he explained. “Without our mentors, Hermanus Siyakha would be a cold, financial and contractual relationship, which is hardly the bridge we need to build between our communities.”

Visit www.hermanussiyakha.org.za for more information on the micro-enterprises in need of funding.

Contact Jerry van Niekerk on 082 453 8263 or send an email to info@hermanussiyakha.org.za if you want to volunteer your services as a mentor in the Hermanus Siyakha programme.

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