Collective brings hope and teaches skills

Jovial Sipokazi Mbalula talks about her salon and her future plans.

While hair is big business in the townships- and very profitable – many people who run the salons lack the business acumen to take their initiatives to the next level or do not take their businesses seriously enough

This emerged in Site C, on Thursday September 15, during the handover of a fully furnished salon to 25-year-old Sipokazi Mbalula, after she completed a six-month training programme with non-governmental organisation (NGO) Hope Africa Collective.

The organisation conducts the training in Lower Crossroads at the Beautiful Gate Centre and aims to equip women with skills to run their businesses and remain profitable. The programme was launched last year.

Head of enterprise development at Hope Africa Collective, Aubrey Mcetywa, told Vukani that the programme began with a three-week Life Development Course, followed by a combination of business courses and hands-on learning.

He said while women were studying business operation practices and financial management, they also learnt to cut, braid, weave and treat hair. Upon the completion of the course, he said, the graduates were responsible for securing a location to operate their salon from. He said the organisation strived to inculcate a culture of self reliance and independence among township women. He explained that they discovered that taverns, spaza shops and salons were common businesses in the townships but no one was really empowering the owners.

The organisation has handed out eight fully-equipped salons in shipping containers so far and they hope to hand out eight more containers before the end of the year.

With the grinding levels of unemployment, he said, they felt that it was necessary that they do their bit to curb the unemployment rate in the township.

He believes that there are many people who have aspirations of running their own businesses but there were no platforms in place to help them enhance their skills and access mentorship and guidance.

He said they wanted to show the community that it was okay to make a living through using your hands and that people don’t necessary have to be employed by a boss to make a living.

“Women are required to pay an amount of R850 for the course and after they have completed the course they are given a container to run a business from,” said Mr Mcetywa.

“We don’t just give them a container and leave; we help the ladies with marketing their businesses. What we have found is that many did not know how to treat customers and could not properly handle the financial aspect of the business. We frequently visit them to assess how they were doing and see where we can help,” he said.

Sipokazi Mbalula said she was excited that she managed to finish the course and to have her own container.

She said it never crossed her mind that one day she would have her own small business and operate a hair salon.

After she lost her job last year, she found herself battling to make ends meet. She tried to get another job but had no luck out and eventually gave up looking for job.

However, she said, at the beginning of this year her friend informed her about the hair salon training course offered by Hope Africa Collective and urged her to register.

Doing people’s hair is not new thing for her and while she was still in high school she used to do her teachers’ and friends’ hair in order to earn pocket money.

She said she was planning to return to school and finish her matric and take her business to new heights.

“My heart is rejoicing and my confidence has been restored.

“I feel like a new person and I’m a person who is self-reliant. I will expand the business and create employment for other woman who are looking for jobs,” she said.