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Sardines can lead to Tuna – Entrepreneurs Who Have Found Employment

Many of our participants are what we call “necessity entrepreneurs” – being unable to find a job, they start businesses as a last resort. Entrepreneurship is no small challenge, though, and even with our assistance, it takes a long time before they are able to start earning a reasonable income with their businesses. Some of our participants have accepted employment offers. This means a steady income and working experience for them, but does it also mean the death of their businesses?

Samson is a tiler and has experience in construction. He joined the Wot-if? Trust as a participant three years ago, when he decided to start his own business – Hlabolohang Flooring. He has recently been contracted as a construction worker at the upcoming Chuma Mall in Diepsloot.  He says he decided to take on the job as a new strategy. His plan is to build relationships and get to know people in the industry, while on the job. Despite his previous marketing approach, persistently visiting all construction sites he came across and offering his services, he wasn’t getting where he wanted to go with his business. “I was not getting the tuna, I was only catching sardines”, he says.

Samson is also making the most of the opportunity to learn more about construction, especially flooring techniques. He’s certainly not let go of his dream or his company, and makes it clear that the construction job is part of his marketing plan.

Andile started Creative & Denim, customising denim clothing and selling vintage clothes at Riversands Market on the weekends. “I started going to the Father Louis Blondel Centre (FLBC) just to use the internet. It was only a year and a half later, after chatting with sis’ Felicety (FLBC project coordinator) that I realized how Wot-if could help me and felt inspired to start a business.”

He then landed the ‘opportunity of a lifetime’ while selling his clothes at the Riversands Market. What he thought was a potential customer turned out to be the owner of a start-up clothing label. Andile now works as the brand’s creative director, overseeing design and production.

While he’s enjoying what he’s doing right now, Andile hasn’t lost sight of his dream to have his own label. “I’m using this opportunity to learn everything I can about the business and to save. I also still do custom orders for my clients in my free time”.

Sometimes, taking a side step, is the right step to achieving your goals.

Both Samson and Andile say they wouldn’t be where they are today if it wasn’t for the Wot-if? Trust. “Just being able to use the internet and printers for free was a big help for me”, says Samson. “Using an internet café would have cost me a lot of money – money I didn’t have. All the training and workshops also helped me develop a clear vision of what I want to do.”

Andile believes that it was the chat with sis’ Felicety that gave him the push to follow his dreams.