Women are extraordinary powerhouses and leaders within their homes, communities, and society, extending far beyond Women's Month. Initially sparked by a pamphlet advertisement from the Yes We Can South Africa Foundation, which inspired her to join, Abieda Hendricks now shares that she envisions launching her own clothing line, four years down the road! Exciting!
Abieda has excelled in her sewing and entrepreneurial skills since joining YWC in 2019. Because of this, she expressed that her finances have significantly improved, elevating her living standards while also fostering unity within her family. From sales to operating machines and managing deliveries, her family of three children and her husband are all actively involved in running her current sewing business, known as https://www.facebook.com/madebyabieda. Her husband of over 20 years complements her perfectly, always ready, and willing to help. He is the Yin to her Yang! Who doesn’t love a beautiful love story, right?
Strengthened by this close-knit family bond and entrepreneurial spirit, their objective is to produce a minimum of 2000 bags per month with YWC to the Siya Kolisi Foundation! Abieda is also involved in producing 3000 vegetable bags through the Social Employment Fund of the Presidential Employment Stimulus under the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition. This has been a sustained collaboration since September 2022 that has profoundly helped solidify the sustainability and regular income to YWC members and communities who are beneficiaries of such efforts.
Beyond her household, Abieda takes pride in contributing to her community by donating fabric to organisations and providing clothing to the homeless. No items ever go to waste, and this demonstrates that sustainability for the environment abets a sustainable ecosystem of human existence. This is a core belief of YWC that social development goes hand-in-hand with the planet’s sustainability!
For YWC, Abieda is now passing the baton as one of the teachers to the women sheltered at the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children. She teaches them sewing skills and Abieda is loved by her students. Excitingly, they have recently graduated! Apart from graduating with practical skills, they were able to generate an income for themselves with the items that they were sewing, as they were learning! Moreover, when demanding projects arise, centred on local and women-centric efforts, Abieda hires local women to aid in fulfilling significant orders. She stands as a testament of an empowered woman, sharing and radiating that empowerment to all those around her. Abieda pays forward and this is one of the missions of YWC: share the knowledge that one acquired with others.
In addition to her giving spirit, Abieda's determined attitude has driven her to aspire for a clothing line catering to plus-sized women. She shared that being a plus-size woman herself, she often struggles to find clothes that simply fit her. Many other women face this reality due to Eurocentric norms and standards of beauty, and she aspires to challenge these norms and break barriers, starting with her clothing line. Powerhouse to powerhouses! This encapsulates the power of femininity and womanhood when it has a platform for advancing economic empowerment, extending well beyond Women's Month.
Previously, she shared that YWC and her business enabled her to save R20 000 for her husband to purchase a truck, thereby contributing to the greater respect from him within the household. On her birthday this year, he surprised her with an industrial overlocker, plain machine and cover seam! This exemplifies the beautiful cycle of giving, where once empowered you empower others and they empower you too. Furthermore, saving is one of the significant markers of an entrepreneurial mindset. Staying true to this, she continues to go beyond the R20 000. For YWC, through the operational budget, she managed to save up for a new electronic tablet. It is Abieda who engages with the messages the organization receives via WhatsApp. She recently surprised the organization's members with the tablet the same way she surprised her husband with the monetary gift! Furthermore, through her personal savings, she saved up money to purchase a laptop to continually propel her own business. Power to you Abieda!
When in doubt about her sewing work, she turns to her Egyptian neighbour, who constantly reassures her. Currently, another neighbour has allowed Abieda to rent extra storage in their garage for mountains of fabric that was one of the regular donations from The Foschini Group. Abieda sells some of this fabric in her yard to earn an extra income for YWC and herself. All hands are on deck! Who knew sewing could be such a community-wide effort?! The core of any society is family and community - all with Abieda existing at the centre of these beautiful intersections.
Among her upcoming plans is participation in the Johannesburg market, a venture she has been preparing for over a year. Abieda has never been outside of Cape Town! And her first time will be owing to her sewing talent. Additionally, she envisions embarking on a religious journey to Mecca. All these possibilities stem from the circle of giving and receiving that Abieda initiated when she embarked on her journey with YWC.
Integrated within her Islamic faith, she encourages women to buy panty-liners for after their religious prayers of 5 times a day as their livelihoods are integrated in their faith. She has also sold hundreds pantyliners to international markets. Additionally, Abieda was making thousands of washable masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health professionals during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and 2021. This she expressed, got her through the financially challenging pandemic period. She will be bringing these entrepreneurial and accumulated skills to greater heights, whether in Johannesburg or back in her community.
Abieda finds pride in her motherhood, she is a wife, entrepreneur, businesswoman and powerhouse. With all these strengths, and a little bit more saving, who knows what the future holds?
We are confident in an even more fruitful future. Abieda shares that when she first started, she proclaimed, "Let me do something that I want to do". She continues to embody these words as she accomplishes project by project, garment by garment, stitch by stitch. We are exceptionally excited to see what the future holds and to witness the flourishing of Abieda and other women associated with the Yes We Can South Africa Foundation and beyond!