Marikana North West

BBL PARTICIPANT: Nokuthula Toons, Kokosi, Northwest Province

In a Nutshell

Through her participation in SocioTech’s Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) strategies to stimulate personal economic activity, Nokuthula Toons from Kokosi in Northwest Province has been able to broaden her local client base, despite entrenched purchasing habits in local communities. She is grateful for the upturn in business, but continues to work towards better solutions.

She says…

Nokutula (2)

I have a small patch of land under the Eskom power lines in Kokosi, Extension 2. The municipality can’t build houses there, so it is available for food production. If I am in a bad mood or have a headache, working in my garden makes me feel better. I have always felt that way. I grew up in a village called Pelepele which is near Bizana in the Eastern Cape - that’s where Winnie Madikizela Mandela comes from. When I was a little girl, my father grew and sold vegetables. All the usual stuff – mielies, carrots, cabbage, spinach and tomatoes. I used to help him with little jobs like weeding, watering, sometimes bird scaring, but my main role was selling.

Every day after school I would go around the neighbourhood, going house to house selling. I loved it because it was fun talking to all the customers and collecting the money. I was helping my daddy and contributing to our household. It made me feel good. I have tried to interest my son in helping me in my garden, but he says he isn’t interested.

"....but these days there are no jobs. No one in my house is working."


I moved here when I got married in 1997. I worked in the security industry for a while but these days there are no jobs. No one in my house is working. My husband has been unemployed for 5 years and for me it is 11 years. I make some money sewing – I specialise in making church uniforms – but life is very hard. And sewing is not good for my eyes, the more I do it the more I struggle to see – even things like WhatsApp messages have become hard to see.

Angeline Nkosi

I decided to start a garden because I lost confidence in the idea that there would be jobs in the business sector. If I wanted to make an income, I was going to need to make it happen for myself. I needed to make sure that my children had food to eat. I was gardening for a few years before I met the people from SocioTech and during that time I managed to feed my kids because we ate from the garden, but I wasn’t making a lot of sales. It is disheartening when you work hard and don’t get orders. I thought I would follow my father’s example and turn the vegetable garden into a small business. I have tried those same techniques that I used as a child of going house to house here but sadly they didn’t work well. In this community people don’t support local growers. I don’t know why, but it seems that they would rather spend the money on a taxi to go to a supermarket. It makes no sense, because it is R15 to get to town which is R30 spent before they have even started to shop. And the quality of the vegetables in Shoprite is not good. Often it is not even fresh. And who knows what chemicals they put on their products.

Then I met the SocioTech team. The first one I met was Charmaine. One day about a year ago she was driving around the area and she saw me working, so she stopped and invited me to a meeting. That was how I started with the SocioTech training. I liked the techniques and the people seemed to know what they were talking about, so I continued with the training. It was quite hard work and many of the people I started with did not complete the course, but I am so glad I did. The trench beds and the SocioTech BBL Vegetable Tunnel have improved the quality and the quantity of my crops. The look of my crops has improved a lot. The spinach I grow is big and green and beautiful. Now people walk past, and they order from me. I have got orders from about 10 new customers. I am delivering to them, and things are going better. Everyone who sees my spinach says ‘wow!’  I am beginning to get local support which is making me feel much happier.

"It is little and slow, but it is happening. "

Through the SocioTech MyFuture programme we learnt techniques for marketing our products and I am beginning to see the results working. It is little and slow, but it is happening.

Even with the up-turn in business the problem of our people wanting to buy at fancy shops far away rather than from local small business growers still exists. It is not just me, all the farmers in my area have the same problem with a lack of local support. We have discussed it amongst ourselves, and we think that perhaps the solution is to find more land so that we can grow more crops. Once we had sufficient output, we might be able to approach the supermarkets and the schools about ordering in bulk. I don’t know.

What I do know is that I am feeding my children, and I am keeping myself healthy. This is not perfect, but it is better than the alternative.

"What I do know is that I am feeding my children, and I am keeping myself healthy."

Angeline Nkosi 1