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All started with a flyer - Abieda Hendricks' Story

Updated: Jun 4, 2021

Abieda Hendricks decided that she needed to challenge herself and help create more income for the family – what she didn’t know initially was that she would also be helping her community. She saw a Yes We Can South Africa Foundation flyer lying on a table at a relative’s home in September 2019. The relative showed her what she had made through the classes she had attended at YWC. “I was shocked and surprised at the same time with the beautiful products she had created. I decided there and then to get in touch with YWC to start their classes at the public library in my neighbourhood where classes were being offered – I therefore had no excuse but to learn and improve myself” said Abieda. She had a sewing machine at home, but barely knew how to thread the needle! By the time she had completed her first lesson at YWC she knew that she wanted to continue to sew whatever she could lay her hands on and that she was a perfectionist when it came to sewing – after all it did take her 3 hours to make her first simple shopping bag! She also enjoyed all the noise and conversations with the other ladies, along with the challenges that each project, and future projects would bring to her. Most of the ladies who learnt to sew found, within themselves, the skills and creativity that they never knew they had.

Abieda lives in Athlone, Cape Town, is a mother of 3 and has a husband of 21 years who is in the building industry. She has a very entrepreneurial spirit, drive and lots of passion. She turned a small part of her home into an area where she teaches a couple of students on a weekly basis how to sew for YWC at R100/class, plus involves herself in an administrative capacity for YWC and has even opened her own “Handmade by Abieda” business with a beautiful material label that she paid for by swopping donated Foschini material in return for her labels.

She has had to hire an assistant, her sister-in-law, to help with her business, therefore the money remains in the family. Abieda, and the women helping with the business, are empowered and respected by all within the family. Without her husband knowing, she had been putting money aside from their combined profits for both businesses in less than a year and surprised him with a R20,000.00 payment towards a new van for his building business! “I help with the books for his business, so that I keep a close eye on all that is going on financially. He did ask me several times why the bank balance was so low, to which I blamed the high bank fees as the reason for It. This is how I managed to save the R20k, I was hiding the money away from him!”.

Her first major sewing order came from a gin company which ordered 50 bottle bags made by herself. She also worked on a project for facemasks ordered by Herschel Girls’ School so that the learners could play their flutes, trumpets, etc in a safe way whilst practising and playing together. The masks created were so innovative and a big hit with the school.

Apart from the above, her entrepreneurship comes to light in various ways. She sold a mountain load of donated cotton reels at subsidised prices to a laundromat in Sea Point, which has a repair section to their business, and they bought the stock at a price that you would have paid a fortune for at a local haberdashery or material shop. She manages to get better prices (such as cotton, etc) every time she goes to her local shops and especially for large quantities of foam chips / batting / styrofoam to save on the items she creates for YWC and her own label. She uses her local community to buy all her products therefore they are all helping each other. It is paramount for YWC to buy all its materials from where our ladies are located.

Abieda created the prototype for the 100 litre cooking bag. It took approximately 2 weeks in order to work out the correct dimensions and to fit the pot correctly. Today, each bag takes less than a week to make. The material used for each bag is approximately 8 metres. This includes both the outer and the inner lining. Any off cuts are then used to create the lid – so clever! Most of the material has been generously donated by big South African retailers which give their old promotional banners and posters to YWC. The insulation used is either foam chips which is purchased at a price of R29.50/kg.

This is bought from the company, HiLite Textile & Curtaining Job Buyers, whereby she managed to bargain them down from R35.00/kg! Each cooking bag takes 9kg of insulation which is placed between the outer and inner lining. She also buys the styrofoam under her Handmade by Abieda label at that reduced price, no matter how much she is purchasing at the time. This ensures the company that she will always buy from them.

Abieda takes time to see what her community needs. She has made wonderful washable pads that of course help towards keeping our world amore sustainable and greener place to live in. She also keeps all of the material off cuts and sells them to painters / builders, etc at a cost of R50 for 15kg. Every bit helps!"When I joined YWC I only expected them to teach me basic sewing skills. Mila and Susara saw the sewing passion in me that I could not see in myself! They believed in me in that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. YWC guided me and taught me business skills. I am proud to say I am financially independent because of YWC. Thank you YWC, you will always be a part of my life!"

She has been asked to speak on a couple of the local radio stations to tell her story and to promote YWC. Abieda was accepted for a programme at the Clothing Bank in Cape Town. It is a 12 month mentoring programme on running a business, finance and life skills training. This she started in March 2021 and is thoroughly enjoying it and appreciates the value it is adding to her life.

Abieda applies what is crucial at YWC and shares her knowledge with the other ladies – she certainly knows how to pay it forward!

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