BBL PARTICIPANT: Phindile Kgophane, Moteti Liberty, Mpumalanga Province
In a Nutshell
Through her participation in SocioTech’s Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) strategies to stimulate personal economic activity, Phindile Kgophane has created an abundant food garden. Her confidence has grown, and her business is flourishing. She is ploughing profits into building a beautiful home.
I grew up in Makgakadimeng. My father had two wives, and my sister and I worked with them in the fields. They taught us to plough and plant. Those ladies made us work hard. We used to get up at 5 in the morning and we worked until they said we could stop. Sometimes until very late. And then when the crops had been harvested it was our job to go around selling. From the time I was about 12 years old, I had to put a basket full of vegetables on my head and go around to the customers. When the basket was empty, they would pour more vegetables in, and I would go again. I hated selling when I was young because children from my school would see me and laugh. I felt so foolish. The next day at school they would make jokes. I found it really painful, and it damaged my confidence.
One of the things that I learnt doing the BBL MyFuture training with Kwena was not to take myself for granted and not to worry so much about what other people think or say. I am worthy of respect. I know now that my dignity cannot be taken away from me so easily.
That little girl with the basket on her head felt foolish because she didn’t know that. Now if I have to put spinach in a wheelbarrow and take it to customers, so what? I am a businesswoman. That doesn’t impact on my dignity. I work for myself, and that work is bringing me closer to my dreams.
Not taking myself for granted is only one of the things I learnt. I also I learnt how to control expenses, how to budget and save. I learnt to grow my business slowly so that every step I take is correct. I mustn’t take on big expenses like a bakkie too soon. The time will come for that, but not yet. Now if the bakkie broke down it would take money to repair that I don’t have. I know my time for those things will come.
"I don’t give up. Not ever."
For now, my priority is building my house. All the hard work in the garden and the dedicated saving has created something beautiful. The basic structure is built. The roof is on. The rooms are divided. When it is finished the house will have three bedrooms, a kitchen a dining room, a sitting room, two bathrooms and a garage. I am not in a rush. We are about two years from being finished. Slowly and carefully. Longer but better. I don’t give up. Not ever.
The house already has a shaded area at the front. In my imagination I can see myself and my husband as an elderly couple sitting there, looking out over our family. My husband didn’t like all this farming at first – he saw how hard I was working, and he said: “Don’t do it. I can bring in the money,” but these days things are very expensive. One person’s wages will not be enough. So, I kept going and now he is very supportive. He even says he will buy land so that there can be more land to farm.
The way they work at SocioTech is not for everyone. Some people in this community don’t like it because they don’t give you things for free. You must buy the seedlings. They give you knowledge and they support you with information and advice if you have a problem, but you have to put in the hard work. You need to be patient because plants don’t grow overnight, and savings don’t magically appear. But if you put in the effort and have the patience, the end results are definitely worth it.