Meet the women whose 60 000 cloth masks make taverns safer

SAB empowers female-owned SMEs to make an impact during the Covid-19 pandemic

With the economy of the country slowly reopening, most businesses are once again able to trade and generate a level of income to support their livelihoods. While this is a welcome reprieve for our country, the effects of the beginning stages of hard lockdown can still be felt. Businesses were forced to cease operations at very short notice, limiting and in some instances completely cutting off cash flow.

As small businesses faced a grim and uncertain future, imagine how many entrepreneurs could become despondent in the face of such adversity.

But it is no secret that “South African” is almost synonymous with the word “resilient”.

We salute all small business owners who have shown resilience and determination in these uncertain times.

Our nation continuously and consistently rises above difficult situations, creating hope in the direst of situations.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the business owners of our nation heeded the call, demonstrating South African resilience once again. At a time when "business as usual" operations were ground to a halt, we saw many South African businesses totally pivot their line of work to an essential service. These small businesses seized the opportunity, not only to put food on their table, but to provide a service that the country, and its businesses, are in desperate need of.

An outstanding example of adaptability can be showcased by seven heroic ladies who ensured that their businesses not only survived the Covid-19 pandemic but made an impact while doing so.

These ladies were all participants of a South African Breweries programme, the SAB Foundation, which invests in entrepreneurs, specifically women and youth, people in rural areas and people with disabilities. These ladies also show us a prime example of the fact that the relationship between big businesses and small businesses are symbiotic in an inspiring initiative undertaken by the South African Breweries (SAB).

Once it was confirmed that alcohol trade can resume in lockdown level 3, SAB prioritised the safe and responsible reopening of trade. To this end, one of the initiatives undertaken by the business was to distribute safety kits to taverns nationwide.

These kits intend to curb contamination and include five cloth masks, four informational posters, two litres of sanitiser, two litres of disinfectant and three education manuals.

While the distribution of the kits is a fantastic gesture of corporate citizenship and partnership with our government, SAB did not stop there.

SAB went a step further, approaching the alumni of SAB Foundation and offering them an opportunity to manufacture the cloth masks, which are a part of the safety kits. This opportunity came as a beacon of hope for these women, whose business operation had been abruptly halted.

As it was so aptly put by Zoleka Lisa, SAB's vice-president of corporate affairs: “At a time where so many South African businesses need all the support they can get, we needed to make sure our impact was maximised. We knew we needed entrepreneurs, as they are critical to reigniting our economy, while helping our tavern owners get ready to trade safely. Through the help of these extraordinary female entrepreneurs we were able to do just that. We all have to do what we can to empower those around us at every turn as these times are difficult for all of us.”

These women accepted the challenge, pivoting their usual business operations in favour of manufacturing cloth masks for the good of their fellow South Africans, their livelihoods, and their country's economy.

We salute all small business owners who have shown resilience and determination in these uncertain times.

The heroines below enabled SAB to create and distribute 60 000 cloth masks, enabling the safe reopening of trade!

Constance Dlamini - Phutuma Multi Purpose

Phutuma Multi Purpose manufactures clothes and products for infants, children and ladies. Constance began her business with the vision of being independent and using her skills to empower her community.

Caroline van Rooi - Red Pilot

Red Pilot is a clothing manufacturing company. It produces a range of garments such as sporting and outdoor apparel, swimwear for the fuller figure, and a line of baby clothing.
Caroline became disabled eight years ago, meaning she could no longer work for her employer. Despite this, Caroline took control of her situation, using her skills to start her own business.

Hlengiwe Zulu - Mtofo Trading

Mtofo Trading Enterprise specialises in the manufacture of uniforms and other essentials for workers and school-going children.
Hlengiwe prioritises contributing positively to the community through her commitment to using local SMMEs for large orders.

Florence Parnell - PineApple Creations

PineApple Creations provides quality and affordable school-wear, industrial uniforms and protective wear. Florence ensures that schoolchildren and workers in Helderberg have access to affordable and good quality uniforms. The next step for Florence is to open a boutique in Villiersdorp and Grabouw.

Lesego Moloka - Pone Creatives

Pone Creatives is a home furnishing textile design house that offers luxurious, woven fabrics in unique designs. Lesego is the creative engineer behind Pone designs. Lesego uses original weaving techniques in her designs, making them stand out in your home!

Samukelisiwe Khanyile - Qhawekazi Styles

Qhawekazi Styles Collection crafts timeless African-inspired couture for everyday and formal wear. Initially, Samukelisiwe focused on sourcing and selling dresses. However, in October 2017 Qhawekazi identified a niche in the market and started sourcing materials for the production of kimonos, scarves and dresses.

Kuvonakala Mavunda - Sizanimavoko Enterprise

Sizanimavoko Enterprise is a uniform-sewing business designing uniforms based on their clients’ needs. Sizanimavoko was initiated by Kuvonakala’s mother. Kuvonakala Mavunda is following in her mother’s footsteps to continue her legacy