Jun 26, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Never give up, says young woman bucking the unemployment trend

Ponani Shikweni was 16 years old when she arrived in Gauteng’s Alexandra township in 2007. She had moved from her home village in Giyani, Limpopo, and arrived looking for every opportunity she could find.

Prepared for hard work, she found a job as a sweeper with a construction company in the city center, but lost the job in 2012.

In 2013 she volunteered as a supervisor for an organization that helps orphans and vulnerable children in Alex. But while it was a satisfying job, it did not generate income and paid jobs were hard to come by.

“I helped the gogos who care for their grandchildren and made them take their own I helped the kids with their homework, but I needed a job, “she said.

Desperate for a steady and reliable source of income, she realized that she could only rely on herself decided to use her skills in making textile products and started her own business, Hluvuko Designs, in 2014.

She lived in an RDP house with her husband and daughters when she started making items with the only skill they had to be handcrafted to make.

“I made these Chaka-Chaka blankets and ended up having a group of 10 women and we all made them,” Shikweni said, referring to Basic Fleece blankets made by hand.

“Every week hm I got the blankets and sold them in Sandton. With my winnings, I would pay the ladies, buy more fabric, and save my money until I bought a little machine. I learned how to sew myself, “she says with a laugh, remembering.

Since then, she has trained on huge factory machines and has a wide range of qualifications in the textile trade.

In a room in her house and with a view of an outside area, she created a small factory. It became a business space that grew. As the company expanded, Shikweni recruited other unemployed women and trained them to become qualified seamstresses who work in Alexandra.

After six years, Hluvuko Designs was literally bursting at the seams.

2019 was bursting The burgeoning business was discovered by the private healthcare company Netcare. They recognized the potential of the female entrepreneurial model as a promising business development project. Shikweni was exactly the kind of self-employment they were looking for.

With their help, Shikweni formally registered Hluvuko Designs, a small business with a BEE rating of 1 that is fully compliant with business registration and income tax certification and ready to take on corporate clients.

As their first major client, Netcare hired Hluvuko Designs to sew conference bags, pillow cases and kangaroo towels so mothers can carry their newborns on their own bodies.

When the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, Hluvuko Designs was ready. The initiative of the Youth Employment Service (YES) in Alexandra hired them to make 20,000 face masks and to give them away for free to people who shop at the Alex Mall.

In February of this year with a good track record and firm established customers, Shikweni has closed their small factory and moved operations to the Netcare Ulusha Hub in the popular shopping center.

Here they have more space and will continue to be incubated and supported by YES. Shikweni and her team are trained in pricing, inventory management, and quality control. They’re putting Microsoft teams in and growing the tablecloths and bags market.

According to Shikweni, a lot of effort, hard work, and word of mouth is why their little idea flourished and grew into a fully functioning company at 35 Women and youth from Alexandra.

“Hluvuko”, she said, means “development” in Tsonga.

It is the fulfillment of their dream, offer the youth of Alexandra valuable skills and create Jobs for them.

However, your vision is not yet complete. She wants more. Hluvuko Designs is a company with the aim of developing offices and supplying customers from the public and private sectors. It’s Shikweni’s big plan that has turned her from an unemployed street cleaner to an impressive business woman.

Hluvuko Designs owns 18 sewing machines, three overlockers, and a bakkie.

“I have all of mine Get back in business. We have no sponsors or donations. We do everything for ourselves, ”she said.

According to the StatsSA, 17% of employment in South Africa comes from the informal sector, the so-called township economy. The quarterly labor force survey Q2 2021 puts the unemployment rate among young people between the ages of 15 and 24 at 75%.

It’s a bleak picture that people like Shikweni are desperate to improve.

“You have to work very hard and believe in your own brand and ability to create. Listen to your heart. Avoid friends who keep you from pursuing your dreams. Be persistent. “