BBL PARTICIPANT: Nkosiyethu Alfred Qekele, Bokamoso, Rustenburg, Northwest Province
In a Nutshell
Through his participation in SocioTech’s Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) strategies to stimulate personal economic activity, Nkosiyethu Alfred Qekele from Bokamoso, Rustenburg has….
I originally come from Cofimvaba (Ndlunkulu settlement) in the Eastern Cape, but I have been here in the Northwest since 2006. I worked at Waterval Smelter in Rustenburg from 2010 – 2022 but these days those sorts of jobs are very difficult to find so I have had to create my own new opportunities. Thanks to my hard work and the skills I have gained working with SocioTech, I am finding ways to do that. It is not easy, but I think what I have learnt is that we all have inner strength and God given talents.
Often the difference between success and failure is belief in those strengths and talents. If you doubt, that is when problems arise.
Faith alone is not enough. Sometimes you need guidance and training. When I started gardening about 3 years back – during lockdown – at first, I wasn’t very successful. I was trying to grow spinach but the quality of what I produced was not very good. Somehow it would get pock marked and shrivel before it was ready to eat. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. When I met Kwena, he taught me about how to properly space my plants, about trenching and drip irrigation and that made a big difference to the quality and the quantity. Now I am eating spinach almost every day and selling too (R10 a bunch). Right now, things are going well in my garden but who knows what will happen in the future. I don’t have all the answers and farming is a difficult business. I like that the team from SocioTech come back to see us regularly. If a problem does arise, I know that there will be support and guidance.
People are surprised when they see where my spinach grows. I get a lot of vegetables from a tiny, thin strip behind my house. It is more like a corridor than a garden. I have covered on top with netting and that is where I work. My daughter (who is 2 years and 8 months) is the only one of us who can stand up in there. She loves to come and garden with me, and I love having her there.
"Children are never too young to learn."
Children are never too young to learn. Even if she is too small to garden skilfully, she is learning to respect hard work. She can take that attitude with her wherever she goes in life.
I also work with my wife making traditional Xhosa style clothes and beading. I sell about 10 necklaces in a month and my wife sells about another 8. We sell each necklace for about R300. It can be complicated doing bead work with a toddler in a small house. I have to make sure to keep everything out of her reach, but I am glad that she is here watching us work. As we sew, she sees everything, and I am sure she is picking up skills. When the time is right, she will have the beginnings of knowledge. And she will understand about working together as a family.
Business is more than just making stuff. You also have to sell it. I have learnt a lot about selling from Kwena. I post on WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter. I also sell the old-fashioned way by walking around the neighbourhood and showing people what I have made. He also taught me about budgeting which is very important with something like beading.
You need to keep track of all the costs, or how else would you know if you made profit? You need to know what you have earned, but also what you have spent to earn it.
For example, if I make a necklace, I must buy black and white beads. Each colour packet is R55 so that’s R110 but 1 necklace only needs half a packet so I can get about 2.5 necklaces from 2 packets.
Attitude is everything. You must never say ‘we don’t have enough space’ or ‘we don’t have enough money’. The secret is to have confidence in your God given talents and just start and get on with things.
Small money and small space are not forever. Work hard now because the space and the money will grow over time. Your own power is what is needed. Use that power wisely and consistently. Remember that life goes on. Things change. It is up to you if that change is better or worse. Doing your work with your whole heart will bring positive results.