Below are just a few of the success stories of women who have overcome their difficult circumstances and through pure perseverance, created sustainable businesses.
Happiness Makhatini was born and grew up in Matatiel in the Eastern Cape where she lived with her grandmother and her older sister. Happiness’s mother lived in Durban and they met for the first time when she turned 18.
Happiness fell pregnant while she was in Grade 11 as a result she left school and travelled to Cape Town and went to live with her aunt.
After giving birth to her son, Happiness spent the next few years working for the local Spur where she started working in the kitchen washing dishes. Her confidence grew and left to take up a job as a receptionist. During this time she met her husband and they married in 1992, they have a daughter together.
2002 her Happiness lost her sister to HIV, her sister had been her emotional support and the loss was a hard blow.
Happiness joined TCB in 2013 during a difficult time in her life, she recognised the silver lining in the opportunities offered to her and grabbed she them with both hands. Happiness is a woman of integrity and her journey to success is a story that inspires everyone at TCB. She has gone on to achieve Ambassador Status and has graduated to become a peer mentor.
Watch her story:
Natalie is one of 7 children and was raised in Gugulethu by her paternal grandmother who she describes as loving, kind and her rock. Her father who was caring and worked hard for his family made some wrong choices and spent the majority of Natalie’s growing years in prison; she got to know him through phone calls and the letters he wrote her.
Her grandmother was a traditional healer and a great story teller, Natalie especially loved to listen to stories about the past. Their only source of income was her grandparent’s pension but they never went hungry. She would tell Natalie that “one day everything will make sense”.
Her grandmother had such a positive influence on her life to the extent that Natalie had her first child at the age of 26, she did not want to disappoint her grandmother by having children too young. Natalie was made to feel special and was given the gift of love by her grandmother. It is evident to see that Natalie has a quiet confidence that comes from being nurtured and cared for. She also gives credit to a benevolent uncle who went out of his way to make their lives a little easier.
Her father was released from prison in 2006 and so began the process of getting to know him, sadly he died 8 months after his release.
In 2009 her granny passed away and so began an uphill battle for Natalie. The family home became a pawn to fight over and as the tensions increased she found herself on the street in the middle of the night with a young child and nowhere to go.
Natalie married her husband in 2010 and moved in with her in laws, her mother in-law who she describes as a quite person was diagnosed with cancer and passed away. After her mother in laws death the atmosphere at home became toxic. Unemployment and the resultant anger and stress this causes made daily life unbearable. Natalie and her husband found themselves heavily in debt as a result of carrying the financial load.
Since joining The Clothing Bank Natalie has embraced the SISTER values. She finds it easy to focus on her goals and is single minded; her warmth radiates through the permanent smile on her face.
Natalie has found the financial education to be especially empowering and she says she now understands the value of money and how to manage it. She is successfully tackling her debt.
Natalie would like to own her own home and is well on her way to achieving her dream. She can be found trading in Ikewezi Park in Khyalitsha from her family’s home in Gugulethu.
Busi grew up in Adelade in the Eastern Cape and she describes her childhood as mostly stable where respect and the importance of family were emphasised. She is one of four children and the only daughter. She has never met her biological father.
Busi was brought up by her grandparents and would visit her mother during the school holidays. Her grandfather was a well-known taxi driver in Adelaide and the bread winner.
She has suffered a lot of loss in her life, when her grandfather died her family started to fragment and dissention set in.
Busi’s dream was to study further and she passed matric. While she was making plans to attend college her step father passed away and the family found themselves yet again in financial distress. As a result Busi decided to move to Cape Town to find work in order to help her mother raise her two younger brothers who were still at school.
Cape Town can be a very unwelcoming place and Busi describes this dark time in her life as “how poverty started”.
In 2008 a devastated Busi lost her mother who was her pillar of strength and the centre of her universe, she was three months pregnant at the time. The birth of her son gave her a reason to live and her inner strength and utmost faith in God pulled her through.
Busi was selling chicken feet and cosmetics with limited success when she heard about The Clothing Bank from a friend. She was struggling to manage her cash flow and her self-confidence was at an all-time low.
Busi grabbed the opportunity offer her by The Clothing Bank with both hands and threw herself into learning everything she could about running a small business. She discovered that she has natural business acumen as well as a comfortable learning style. She has completed her Informal Small Business Training and will be graduating very soon. Her success can be credited to the fact that she applies what she learns in the classroom to her business.
Today Busi is a proud single mother. She has managed to build a stable home for her son through her earnings from The Clothing Bank.
Purpose drove Busi and she can now comfortably support herself and her son, who was living with her aunt in the Eastern Cape. She says her greatest achievement to date is bringing him to live with her Cape Town.
I was a child with low self esteem. I was never seen as pretty enough or good enough by my own family. All this made me doubt my potential in life. It even took me long to date guys. So when I was 18 I had a boyfriend. I depended on him to feed me with good loving words, words I wish my family could have said to me. Without him I didn’t see my life and when he wanted to leave me after 8 years I wanted to die.
At the age of 20 I was stuck with two kids and my dreams went down the drain as my boyfriend was no longer saying sweet things to me. At 22 I lost my son. Suddenly I could not cope with anything, that gave me extra reason to want to die, I couldn’t care. I started drinking and I was taking pain tablets with the alcohol.
I eventually came to my senses in 2011 because I could see my older child was hurting through my actions. She was almost excluded from school for always being absent. I changed my ways, I became close to the Lord. Still I faced challenges even though I was saved. My self esteem was being challenged again because I couldn’t find a job. I wanted to start a business but my childhood fear was still with me.
2012 was still challenging in many ways. In 2013 things became brighter even though I was challenged last year I lost my father and grandfather. It became hard and painful, but I had to try and carry on.
Being here at TCB helped me to deal with life. I joined in 2013 and have learnt how to manage my finances and my confidence has grown. I love being part of an organisation that recognizes the notion that all human beings are “under construction” and we all have the potential to discover our unique greatness.
As a result of my success at TCB I have been chosen to pilot a Pizza Franchise as part of The Clothing Bank’s Micro franchise accelerator. The concept is called Eezi Street Pizza’s and my future looks as bright as the yellow Tuk Tuk’s we run our business from.