Patience keeps the tills ringing

Lihle Mtshali

Lihle Mtshali

For more than two years Patience Martin's daily life entailed walking the malls of Johannesburg, seven days a week, hawking silk stockings, clothes and shoes that she bought in Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

She braved the elements, struggled in and out of taxis and fought with shopping mall security guards who frequently barred her and her wares from entering the malls.

But true to her name, the 38-year-old Naledi, Soweto, resident persevered. In 2001, supported by her fiance Malebo Magashule, she took a leap of faith and quit the hawking business. She invested her money in a Cell C mobile trailer, bought three telephone lines and positioned the hand-painted trailer at the Lenasia taxi rank. The traffic to her little trailer was so strong that within three weeks she had added three more lines using the profit that she had made from her initial investment.

Today Patience is the proud owner of 12 Cell C containers that house more than 100 telephone lines, five Cell C franchise stores, and negotiations are under way for the acquisition of more containers and stores.

Patience attributes her success to the fact that every day for a year she manned the telephones herself, getting hands-on experience. Now she is better equipped to meet her customers' needs and understand whatever difficulties her staff might encounter.

"I was up before six every morning and didn't close my trailer before seven at night. I couldn't have done that if I didn't love what I was doing and if I wasn't doing it with all my heart," says Martin.

Martin's businesses now employ 20 people, a fact of which she is proud because she is contributing to the upliftment of the community.