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Township businesses get lifeline

Redefine programme boosts emerging entrepreneurs

Yamkela Mahlangeni with his brand Ciko Shoes.
Yamkela Mahlangeni with his brand Ciko Shoes.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Two Soweto-based entrepreneurs running start-up businesses have been thrown a lifeline by JSE-listed agency Redefine Properties to develop their informal enterprises to thrive exponentially.

Yamkela Mahlangeni, 32, and Nteseng Manana, 41, are part of 30 individual entrepreneurs from Soweto who have been selected to participate in an SMME life-coaching development programme run by Redefine Properties and implemented by Siwaju Consulting.

Mahlangeni, who is in the shoe manufacturing industry, runs his Ciko Shoes enterprise, which he established last year in Pimville.

Mahlangeni makes shoes with his own hands in a corrugated-iron workshop in the back yard of his parents’ house.

He said his parents inspired him to go into the shoe-making business.

“My parents were working for a footwear manufacturing company a long time ago and they also wanted to start their own shoe manufacturing  company. They trained me at first. It all started with my parents,” said Mahlangeni.

The ambitious shoemaker got additional shoe-making skills from an internship he did at the Vaal University of Technology (VUT), Sebokeng campus, in 2015. 

Mahlangeni told Sowetan that he could make 10 pairs of shoes a day and it took him just two hours to make one pair. He supplies his shoes to schools, individuals and people who want to donate them.

“From this programme, you are equipped with tools on how to understand yourself; what you want to achieve, where you want to go; tools needed to run a company; and skills you can apply right away.”

Manana, another beneficiary of the SMME programme, and based in Diepkloof, is in the underwear and fashion retail industry, running her Adorn Underwear business.

“I have always been interested in underwear. As a woman you struggle to get proper, fitting underwear and sometimes underwear is just expensive. And talking from experience, whenever I go to the shops, they don’t have measurement tape to take your bra size. So informally, I decided to start selling underwear,” said Manana.

Manana has been operating in the underwear space for five years.

“This programme has helped me personally and in my business. It helps me  know my vision, mission and  goals for my business. I have also been assisted in developing myself like looking at my strengths, weaknesses and leadership skills.”  

The SMME programme started on September 1 and will run for a period of 12 months. It will include 18 days of contact time, 240 hours of business coaching and mentorship, and online learner management system that will host e-learning material and knowledge library for the participants to utilise throughout the period.

“It is critical that we continue to build the resilience of projects already being run in the communities and also make sure the SMMEs are capacitated to grow and prosper in a constrained economy.  The programmes target people and projects where they can have the greatest economic and social impact,” said Redefine head of marketing and communications Marijke Coetzee.

Co-founder and managing director of Siwaju Consulting Percival Dikobe said: “This programme is aimed at teaching business owners about business finances, business model and help them grow in their own personal leadership and development.”

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