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Repurposed shipping containers changing lives of township traders

Timely donation by global mobile brand itel in Gauteng township is setting entrepreneurs on a path to future success and allowing them to uplift their families

Johannesburg, 29 October 2021 – “This has been my dream since high school,” says 33-year-old Mascha Couch. “Having this tuck shop is an overwhelming experience. I’m so happy and excited.”

This is the response of a Rabie Ridge mother of six, to receiving a mobile container donated by global mobile brand itel.

In the brand’s ‘itel-my-story’ campaign, which celebrated Heritage month by allowing ordinary South Africans to tell their stories of triumph over adversity, part of the response was providing opportunities of empowerment through entrepreneurship.

At a time when tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs due to the impact of coronavirus on the economy, the need for people to take control of their own finances has never been greater.

Acutely aware of South Africa’s record unemployment rate of 34.4%, with joblessness in Gauteng sitting even higher at 35.4%, itel has recognised that empowering small township businesses is key to boosting the township economy.

The containers, which were officially handed over to beneficiaries in various Johannesburg townships in September, provide entrepreneurs with a solid and visible base of operations for their businesses, with each container customised to the needs of the respective trades.

Itel has also ensured they come fully equipped with electricity, a steady water supply and plumbing.

In her business, Couch sells items like bread, macaroni, tinned fish, tinned beef, coffee and sugar to the Rabie Ridge community.

Prior to starting her business, Mascha struggled to make ends meet.

“My biggest challenge was not knowing where our next meal would come from, with so many kids to look after. That has all changed, thanks to her my new container.”

She is the first to admit that she has never liked working for other people, and is determined to make her own business succeed so that her three girls, three boys and fiancé Noemi are able to live good lives.

It is a lesson she learnt from her mother, who was her role model.

“My late mother was the most supportive parent ever. She worked hard in order for her kids, to survive and supported us through a lot of things. So I’m actually following my her footsteps,” she says.

“Through this sponsorship, itel is helping me grow as a businessperson and understand my finances, and this is just the beginning for me.”

The new container has also given her the opportunity to pass on her business skills to her children.

“I enjoy having my kids work in the shop selling to customers. For me, it’s just a dream come true because I’m actually teaching my kids to get into business.”

Couch is a big believer in the power of prayer and never giving up on one’s dreams.

“If you have a vision, if you have a dream, go for it. Don’t let people bring you down and say [you] won’t be able to do it. Just stand up where you are and stand up for yourself and pray for what you want.”

Another Tembisa mother, Nomfundo Nene, 43, is only just beginning her journey in township economy, but has received the best possible start in the form of her new container.

Nene has decided to specialise in making and selling kotas, the hugely popular South African sandwich, filled with fried chips and a meat option.

Like Couch, she has always wanted to be her own boss, and hopes to empower other women by creating jobs for them. That includes her eldest daughter.

“The itel container is helping build a stronger bond with my daughter, as she is assiting me in the business. I am now also able to contribute to helping my husband of 10 years. Thank you so much itel, my dream has finally came true” she says.

Asked what her advise to young South Africans, Nene says, “It’s time to empower yourselves. Do not just for wait for employment, this is the time to start your own businesses and remain focused.”

Cosmo City single mother Maabareki Moagi , 51, who also took ownership of her container in September, is hoping that her up-and-coming business will help free her from the debt she has accumulated after losing her job in the Covid-19 fallout last year.

She is also relishing the opportunity to be her own boss “without anyone telling you do this and do that”.

“As a business owner, you have the autonomy to make your own decisions to yield success. My business will also inspire hope in my community,” Says Moagi.

The mother of three boys and one girl has drawn tremendous inspiration from her sister, who encouraged her not to give up, no matter how difficult her circumstances were.

“You may not have capital to start your business, but you can start small with the little that you have and with time, build on that.”

Itel PR Manager, South Africa, Zikona Captain says it’s investment in the containers and the community will go a long way towards boosting business and entrepreneurial skills.

“The investment represents an opportunity for entrepreneurs to start up businesses which will empower them, their families and communities by extension.”

To follow more information on itel my story

ENDS

Issued by Craig Dummet on behalf of itel Mobile:

For more information, please visit: http://www.itel-mobile.com/global/

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