A contemporary handwoven blanket business is keeping struggling Pretoria West residents warm and teaching unemployed youth skills to earn a living and stay away from crime.
Oarabile Mashigo, 22, planned to continue his studies after obtaining his BA law degree, but couldn't do so because of lack of funds.
However, he was not discouraged and soon another opportunity came his way. The house guardian at his university residence, David Raats, introduced Mashigo to his wife Nicolette, who taught him how to sew and make fleece blankets and scarfs.
Wanting to raise money to hopefully be able to fund his own studies next year, Mashigo decided to hone his new craft.
“Nicolette taught me how to monetise my blankets and scarfs. This is how my business, Cozii Lifestyle, was born,” Mashigo said.
Needing capital to start his business, Mashigo began doing bicycle grocery deliveries in his neighbourhood. “I charged R10 per trip to go to the mall and get groceries. With the money I made and donations from David and friends, I was able to start my business.”
At first, the business was making between two and three blankets a week, but this has increased to five.
While building his business, Mashigo realised there are many economic and social issues affecting his community, specifically with regard to unemployment and drug abuse.
Wanting to help these struggling community members, Mashigo decided to teach them how to make blankets and scarfs. “I work with three young people who assist with sewing and knitting, but I hope to train and employ more people to fight unemployment in my community.
“With the skills they are learning, they can make an income and don’t have to resort to a life of crime or substance abuse,” said Mashigo.
He believes the youth should not wait for others to improve their lives or communities.
“Each of us needs to stand up and become change activators in our communities. It doesn’t matter how small your actions are, the most important thing is to get started.”
• This article first appeared in GCIS's Vuk'uzenzele