Updated: Mar 1, 2022
Yes We Can South Africa Foundation attended an event in the Waterfront, Cape Town, sponsored by FNB for entrepreneurs in September 2019. On entering the event, the founder of YWC, Mila, was so surprised when handed a goody bag made in China and she called the organisers out on it!
Two years later, YWC was contacted by FNB to make the 3000 goody bags for a race which they are sponsoring and which takes place over 3 days cycling through beautiful wine lands and ends up in Hermanus, a seaside town southeast of Cape Town, Western Cape. Due to their involvement in this race they support sport and promote healthy lifestyles which is so important in these trying times – if you go onto the Wines2Whales.com you will see more about it.
When this amazing opportunity came to us, 15 of our ladies immediately sprung into action in co-ordinating this fairly mammoth task as there was a deadline to meet! Firstly, we had to make 3 sample bags according to the bank’s request. FNB chose and supplied the beautiful indigenous shweshwe fabric. YWC was able to use donated cotton from Foschini Group for the stitching and we bought 12 000 metres of black 100% cotton string from a local Muslim supplier in Athlone – we only shop locally to support our communities. This was a challenge in itself as the stock was delayed being delivered to the supplier in Cape Town due to the riots up in KZN and Gauteng with factories and other businesses being destroyed. Our profit was smaller as we did not want to use ‘plastic’ cotton, so we made a conscious decision to buy 100% black cotton string which is over double the price, but in the end its safer and cleaner for the planet. And this matter to us!
The seamstress Abieda Hendricks, from Handmade by Abieda, had a bright idea in that she bought a professional cutting machine and cut 3000 panels with the help of her son. She paid R1200 for the machine and charged YWC R2000.00 for cutting the panels, therefore making a profit of R800.00! They did have to improvise by using their dining room table with a longer plant of wood put on top of it in order to do the work from there. The whole job took 3 days!
We had our own driver delivering the materials to the ladies, firstly to prevent the spread of Covid, and we had the added challenge of the taxi violence in Cape Town. We also supplied each lady with sanitisers and made sure each and every bag was ironed to avoid any risk of Covid-19 transmission. This deadly virus lives 48 hours on fabrics. All completed products were then collected by our driver and delivered to Mila, who personally went through each and every bag to check the final product. We have our own handmade YWC labels inside the bag which is great exposure for us having collaborated with FNB.
We salute FNB not only for the opportunity but for supporting black female businesses. It makes us so proud that they chose us to produce all these bags which we did with great pride and precision with quality control every step of the way! It has been YWC's largest order to date. We hope that this will be the beginning of a seed planted into the corporate world! Please SA companies support township businesses, if you check the quality of the bags made, you will not want to order elsewhere, and more than that SA companies need to support local businesses to get this economy up and running again! We have to appreciate that due to this fantastic order 15 families were being fed during these hard times. These promotional bags have put food on the table of our seamstresses, literally! The only income some of these families have is SASSA grants but the foreigners, do not get any grants.
Mila says “I want YWC South Africa Foundation to become a case study to show that it is possible to uplift our people and it is possible for big businesses to use contractors from the townships. We do feel that we are going from strength to strength but a lot of the small, medium and especially the large businesses need to become involved and support NGOs who are doing such important and professional work out there".
A beautiful part of this story is that Clara Magodo became our first, and we hope of many, challenged women in our organisation! She has proved that with her blindness, she is still very capable of contributing towards the economy. She was able to put the string on each and every bag that she worked on and ironed them all at the end. Every person needs to be given an opportunity to work and earn a decent income. With the money she made, Clara bought bus tickets for her whole family to visit their homeland Zimbabwe!