As a girl growing up in the rural areas, I saw how women struggled to make ends meet and look after their families. I knew from an early age that I wanted to do something that would enable me to help these women, but I failed matric and couldn’t follow my dream of being an engineer.
I found a job as a receptionist and soon found I had a talent for marketing. When I didn’t get a raise after helping my company land a big deal, I decided to tender for a construction contract myself – and I won! So in 2003, I started Amelia Women Project with no capital, just a dream of finding a way to bring employment to poor women. In 2005, I moved into the cleaning industry, realising that construction would not be the right industry for me to help women. I had no capital, and struggled to get a steady flow of clients for my business.
In 2009, I first heard about Raizcorp from a friend in their Partner Elite programme, but I thought it was not for me. I went to a business expo and saw Raizcorp’s stand where they explained to me that if I applied I could get sponsorship to join the ARIZE comprehensive enterprise development programme. I submitted my application and in January 2012, a sponsorship from FLSmidth allowed me to take part in the ARIZE programme.
I won’t lie – it has been a difficult year for me. I learned why some of my projects were eating away at my cash flow. I saw how costs on one project can destroy the profit on others. I had to face my fears of looking at my books and seeing why I wasn’t making a profit. I have managed to cut away the dead wood that was choking my growth, and am set to expand rapidly in the next year.
As difficult as it has been, I’ve come out of this year a much stronger business woman. FLSmidth’s sponsorship has enabled me to benefit from the many lessons and guidance that the ARIZE programme offers. I now know how to market my company and develop proper presentations and proposals.
The learning and guiding I receive on the ARIZE programme also empowered me to implement the ISO 9000 quality management system in my company. This led to Amelia Women Project winning the national Department of Trade and Industry’s Best Performing Quality Intervention Award in November 2012!With this award under my belt, my dream to give poor women work is becoming a reality: we have moved to green cleaning techniques, and Amelia Women Project is expanding to three provinces before going national!