When opportunity knocked, Sithembile Zungu opened the door and embraced it. In 2018 she joined a savings group and gained access to options that have changed her life. Now, with her recent involvement in the WAYSE initiative, she’s seeing more progress.
WAYSE (Women and Youth in Sustainable Enterprise) is a two-year project that aims to develop livelihoods and employability for 10 00 people, mainly women and youth.
Zungu’s story of success is a familiar one in SaveAct. After two share-outs, she had contributed R18 000 towards building her family’s dream house in Ntabamhlophe, near Estcourt. She’s now the owner of three businesses, employs four people and has started a co-op that is benefiting her community. She saves R1 500 per month and said savings group loans were an important part of her entrepreneurial journey, as they helped her start two of her three businesses. “Loans helped because it stopped that thing of loan sharks keeping IDs and things like that,” she said.
Zungu’s first business was started with a loan of R1 200 from her group, which she used to buy a small brush cutter. She was soon doing such a good job in people’s yards she was hired by a local school to cut their grass. With the payment of R8 000 from the school, she bought her second brush cutter, repeating this for two years so that she now has four machines. She has employed four people to help with the cutting.
Her current goal is to buy a steel top-of-the-line machine that will enable her to cut different types of grass and needs less servicing.
“I want the four I have to be used for smaller plots, and I don’t want to waste money constantly servicing them because they are doing too big a job,” she said.
This is however just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Zungu’s entrepreneurial endeavours. Two years ago, she started selling vegetables from her garden. This year the opportunity arose to attended Food Security training through WAYSE, where savings group members were taught basic techniques for improving food production. The training included pest control, soil testing and companion planting.
“I have now planted anew,” said Zungu. “I tested the soil myself and knew which plants would work best because of the training.” She was also able to determine that her soil was acidic and apply a remedy.
Zungu has benefited from two other sets of WAYSE training — Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) and IGA Awakening Enterprise, which focuses on income generation. These training sessions teach members how to start businesses and keep them running, and where to go for outside support and capital.
Zungu took these sessions in her stride and started her third business venture after attending the ABCD workshop. She opened a catering business, taking a loan from one of her savings groups and using it to buy crockery, cutlery and big pots. She now caters for events in and around her community and would like to expand her business by buying a tent, chairs and a business-specific stove.
Other savings group members were so inspired by her they wanted to start their own catering businesses, so she came up with a plan to include them. Using an idea that she got from ABCD training, she started a co-op with some of the people in her SG.
Together they took out loans from their group and used that money to buy crockery and cutlery for the co-op. “For now, we are doing it mostly for ourselves. We don’t want to suffer when we need things as a group. So, each time a co-op member has a family event, they get to use the resources. We have also started hiring it out to members of the community. We have big plans,” Zungu explained. Using what has been learned from the training, the co-op wants to do a business plan so that it can get outside training
In the community she has stature because of her involvement with SaveAct, and she is regarded as the go-to person for information about it. “They call me Mama Mongo (saving), because of the way my house is always filled with women who want to join savings groups or who come to hold their meetings,” she said.
This same home owes a lot to her saving. With her share-outs from 2018-2022, she has built, roofed, and plastered a five-bedroomed home, with a garage, for herself and her family; she also built a rondavel with an adjoining room that acts as storage for all her businesses.
She said the first time she came home from a share-out, she gave her husband R18 000 and said,“Let’s build our dream home.” That was added to money they had been stashing away towards a home build, and they set off to buy bricks. The following year she contributed R10 000 towards the roofing from her share-out money. With the latest share-out, they plastered and painted the main home, including completing another one-bedroomed flat in the yard.
She shared that her husband couldn’t believe it the first time she came home with share-out savings. “He kept saying he didn’t want to get arrested. He kept joking all day that the police were going to knock on the door any second. I had to keep reassuring him that this is from saving all year, that I did this for us. He was very grateful. We both still can’t believe this big house is ours.”
WAYSE is supported by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbHon behalf of the GermanFederal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).