While Phakamani’s operational focus is microenterprise development, the real impact of Phakamani’s work is about meeting basic human needs. Stories like the ones below inspire us every day as we work diligently to grow the organisation and reach ever greater numbers of people.
Samaria Matabela told us she is not hungry since she started a relationship with Phakamani. With eight people under her care, five of them her children, three her grandchildren and a husband, they all lived on two children’s grants from the government – R500 a month. Today, Samaria smiles as she tells how, after her third Phakamani loan, she is happy, has the freedom to do what she wants and is independent. In her home now she has a freezer (which she’s had fixed) in which she keeps cool drinks and ice-cream which she sells along with other items in her spaza shop. She proudly tells of her ability now to feed her family “good food” like chicken feet and heads, beans, frozen fish, spinach and morocco.
Samaria is planning for the future. She’ll be extending her house so that she can move her stock out of her kitchen into a small shop attached to the house – away from her personal space, and re-plastering the inside walls of her badly pockmarked home.
Sesnet Gumede was selling her wares in her little road-side spaza shop when, in 2005, a group of armed men came and robbed her of all the money she’d saved from the day’s trading. Understandably, she became very nervous working without any protection in her shop but she had to carry on. Three years later, in 2008, Sesnet's husband passed away, leaving her to fend for herself and her young son. She felt defenceless and she struggled to make ends meet.
When Phakamani arrived it was the opportunity for Sesnet to improve her business, generate more income, and also do something about her feelings of defencelessness. As the money from the business micro-loans began to work, she set about adding strong bars to the opening of her shop and burglar bars on the windows of her house. The shame of trying to pay back food when she had no money became a thing of the past. She dreams about sending her son to university and getting him a driver's license. For herself, she wants to extend her spaza shop and increase the number and variety of the products she sells.
Maria Mthimkhulu’s family of six lived in a three-room home when she first encountered Phakamani. This included the garage, which had been converted into a workspace for her “broken” sewing business. After Phakamani gave her a loan, new life was injected into her business. Able to buy materials, she made comforters, curtains, church and school uniforms, and more. Her unemployed husband helped her transport her wares to market in their rusty old van, to Witbank, some 200 km away.
Within a year, Maria had built another garage for her workshop, allowing her four children to move out of the bedroom they shared with their parents. Now, if you stand outside the house you see the foundations for an entirely new home, made of better materials, which they will build brick by brick. Mrs Mthimkhulu is no longer afraid for the future. Proudly, she shows off he products. She can now provide for her whole family because Phakamani gave her the opportunity.