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I KNEW THAT I DID NOT WANT TO BE LIKE MY FATHER

By Yvonne Dos Santos | December 02, 2016

My name is Mzimkulu Sokapase.  I am 56 years old. I was born in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape in 1960. I come from a family of three children.  I had a very difficult childhood. My father left my mother when I was six. He was very abusive to my mom and my brothers. Because my mom did not have a job, I was sent to live with my father. I lived with him until I was 16 years old and during that time I was not able to attend school regularly. 

I knew that I did not want to be like my father. I started doing piece jobs when I could get them and I eventually got my matric when I was 34. In 2013, my wife came to Johannesburg. She lived with her friend in the squatter camp in Reiger Park. She told me that there was a school down the road that was doing skills training. I came here in 2015. I met a guy from my church who told me which courses were offered at St Anthony’s. I was very interested in upholstery and I did the course in July 2015.   At the end of the course I did the Nexgen Entrepreneurship Programme. I learnt so much. They taught us how to work as a team and how to start a business. They told us about how to get finance, marketing and how to manage the business. I was the top performing student with 98%. We had to form a business and I was part of the business called Bright Future. My business came second in the Business Challenge. We made an overall profit of 87%. 

I now have my own business. I started it in January. I always enjoyed sewing so I asked myself how I could start making things to sell. I had very little money. I get my material from various dumps where people throw out things they don’t want and I recycle these. I make pencil bags and shoe bags. I use the old materials that I find so it does not cost me much. I only spend money on buying cotton, zips and hangars.  I have no electricity in my shack so I use a hand sewing machine. I sell my shoe bags for R50 and the pencil cases for R20. 

I market my business by going from door to door with my products. I have also made posters which I have put up around the squatter camp.  I have 52 orders now. Last month I made R1 900. I employ my wife and she is my secretary and I pay her. My customers live in the squatter camp. 

It is my dream to get out of the squatter camp and get a proper house. I am trying to get a loan from the bank and I am busy trying to get the information they need. I will soon be registering the businesses. I have been offered a small space to work from in the township and when I buy my industrial sewing machine I will work from there.  In 2020 I want to be a fully-fledged business with at least R1 million in the bank.

St Anthony’s has helped me so much. I am very proud of what I have achieved so far. I can really see that I can make money for myself. I will work very hard until I have reached my goal. God bless everyone at St Anthony’s for helping the people, even the older people, to make a difference in their own lives

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