0

Making it Work: LED during lockdown

Since the enforcement of the national lockdown on 27 March to stem the spread of the Coronavirus in South Africa, CAST faced the challenge of suspending programmes normally held in group settings at the 13 communities in which we operate.

Our Local Economic Development programme seeks to teach business skills and introduce new opportunities to those already running small, medium, and micro enterprises (SMMEs). Over a period of 9 – 18 weeks, the entrepreneurs take part in the Paradigm Shift Business Experience and Business Growth courses facilitated by volunteers and mentors. This curriculum aims to not only educate, but spiritually uplift as the content takes its lead from Holy Scripture.

With this programme suspended, CAST was determined to explore different ways of staying connected with our participants, so as to not lose the tremendous progress they have achieved. Through WhatsApp groups set up for each community of entrepreneurs, we have been able to conduct weekly business forums accessible to all who are interested, creating the space to share ideas, opportunities and prayer requests.

While many are facing severe economic challenges with a sudden loss of income due to enforced business closure and limitations on part-time work, Shakira from Phoenix in Durban is one such entrepreneur who has been motivated by the programme and identified the opportunity to produce cloth face masks, an essential item of personal protective equipment during this time.

The business forum WhatsApp group has been a great idea as we can’t attend our weekly classes. And having this group, we are able to communicate with each other. Janet has been a great help and God-send as she has dedicated her time to helping and assisting us through this lockdown period. Janet has assisted us in continuing with our studies via this means of communication and help us with our business plans/profile. She is passionate and helpful and is always willing to assist where she can. We get to share our weekly experiences with the group and find new ways or ideas on how to use this lockdown time to valuable use.

I have completed my business profile and with the help of Janet, I have to adjust and make a few changes. I am hoping this will improve and grow my business. The lockdown had not been good financially for my business as I have no income due to people being quarantined, but I do believe God has a bigger plan for me. We get to send our prayer requests weekly and Janet prays for our needs. I am truly blessed to be part of this incredible family.

Above: cloth face masks produced by Shakira

Below is more feedback received from other members of the WhatsApp Business Forums:

My business is not registered yet, I sell different things to people, but what I can say is, whenever we converse in our WhatsApp group I learn more about business. My very next step after lockdown is to register my business. Before CAST, I had studied business economics and economics at school and have had a learnership that I’m still busy with, it’s also about managing businesses or organisations. But the magic is only happening now.

The networking conference that was organised by CAST earlier this year, the WhatsApp group, the way CAST doesn’t let go of us, it nurtures me. I never thought that after we have graduated, we will still have a relationship with CAST. Every time I’m with my entrepreneurs’ group, it’s just a confirmation that I was meant to be in business. There was a time when I wanted to quit because I was learning common stuff during the class, but I’m glad I didn’t quit because CAST presents business from a different angle. It’s moving us beyond charity, as the CAST slogan says😃

– Surprise, Lamontville

 

The WhatsApp group business forum has been very helpful in a sense that there is a lot of information shared about how people in business can get help from the government. Also information about how people can get a social grant if they are not employed. It’s like a community where we can share our feelings about the lockdown and it’s also a platform where we receive information.

– Noxolo, Mariannridge

 

The WhatsApp group business forum is doing well. It’s making things easier for us to share business ideas and everything relating to business and CAST community. This platform is really amazing as we lift each other through this business journey with business profiles/business registration, business plans and other ideas.

I would like to thank Janet Okoye and Khetho Morgan Mdluli.

God bless you guys and we are very happy to be part of this platform.

THANK YOU CAST, you are transforming our lives 

Stay indoors healthy and safe.

– Thobani, Lamontville

 

If you are interested in mentoring our entrepreneurs or would like to get involved in the Business Forum WhatsApp groups contact head of CAST’s Local Economic Development programme Janet Okoye at: janet@cast.org.za or 083 990 2090.

0

Triumphant in Christ: Tryphina Mhlanzi’s Story

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Since joining CAST four years ago, Tryphina Mhlanzi, affectionately known as “Mam’Njazi”, has brought life to CAST’s Food Parcel Ministry Days on her visits to our Community Centres in Mariannridge, Lamontville, Noodsberg and Chibini this past year with her passionate and upbeat leading of praise and worship. She is also a participant in CAST’s Business Forum as well as a facilitator for the weekly support group at West City Fellowship, CAST’s partner church in Chesterville, which welcomes ladies from the community and members of the church to come together and build meaningful relationships.

Growing up in Greytown, she came to Durban in the 1980s seeking employment as a domestic worker and worked for several families in Westville. Through one of her employers who attended Westville Truth and Fellowship Church (now West City Fellowship), she was invited to a weekly gathering with other domestic workers during their lunch breaks to listen to the Word.

It was at this gathering, 32 years ago, where Tryphina met Nomakaya Mpambaniso, current Community Co-ordinator for CAST in the Chesterville area, who was also employed as a domestic worker at the time. Their friendship has grown into a deep bond over the years, as they have also served together as foster mothers at Vukukhanye Children’s Home, a transition home established by WCF 12 years ago. Since taking on that position at the home, Tryphina has witnessed the anguish of many abused children that have come into her care, and has felt both joy and sadness in welcoming some and bidding farewell to others.

In her spare time, Tryphina oversees the running of a ‘spaza’ shop started up by her late husband in Marianhill. Participating in CAST’s Local Economic Development programme has taught her useful knowledge and skills in improving her business, particularly in branding, book-keeping and networking. Most valuable, though, has been learning the importance of keeping God at the centre of her business practice, “because we cannot do anything without God,” she says.

Although Tryphina takes comfort in having a strong relationship with God, she shares that this was not always the case, particularly when she was younger.

“People in my community talked about church, but they didn’t talk about God. To be a Christian is not about going to the building, it’s about having a relationship with God” she says.

As a single mother of two daughters, she has found herself having to rely on God more and more to get by. Her husband suffered a long-term illness and passed away 12 years ago. Her elder daughter, Mbali, a qualified journalist, is an active leader serving in the youth ministry of the church, but is currently unable to find full-time employment. Tryphina’s younger daughter, Tracy, a past participant in CAST’s Youth Development programme is diligently working towards attaining a degree in Teaching.

Tryphina’s message to those that she ministers to is one of hope and encouragement to use what God has given them by taking every opportunity to improve their circumstances and ultimately move out of poverty, without shame. She readily shares her testimony and motivates people to also inspire others with what God has been doing in their lives. “To have a challenging life,” she says, “is to know that God is using me. That’s where I find boldness.”

Building supportive relationships with those we serve in our communities is at the centre of our mission in helping them to know God and move out of financial and spiritual poverty. To be a part of this ministry in any of the 10 sites in which we operate, contact Head of Relief Services Sandy Reid at: sandy@cast.org.za or call (031) 266 8830.

0

Saving Grace: Ali’s Story

CAST-kenya-led-ali-adan01

Young entrepreneur, Ali Adan from Kiamaiko in Nairobi, Kenya has found great success since completing the Business Courses offered by CAST in 2018. At just twenty years of age, he had already established his own butchery selling goat meat, earning up to 500 Kenyan Shillings (R62,50) a day, but admits that he would spend his money carelessly, without proper budgeting or financial planning. “As the day ended I could not account for the money,” he says. “I had nothing in my pocket.”

This changed when he heard the announcement about the course at CAST’s partner church in Huruma, Evangelical Victory Church. Eager to improve his business skills, he signed up for the course and learned valuable lessons which have made a significant difference in his life, professionally and personally.

“Firstly, I have learnt the importance of saving. Before I joined CAST, I never saved. I am proud to say that I have some money in my account now.  Secondly, I learnt to manage my time well. Thirdly, I learnt to be polite and respectful to my customers. And lastly, I have also learnt to appreciate my customers by giving discounts and incentives.  These are my top four key lessons that CAST has empowered me with among many other business skills.”

He adds that through the course, he learnt to run an honest business that honours God.  “I was challenged to read my Bible every day and memorize scriptures,” he says. “I have actually done further studies to understand the mystery of the Trinity.” Ali is an active member of his church as a cell group leader that meets twice a week for Bible Study.

Having grown up in the farmlands outside Nairobi City, where most of his family still live, Ali has big dreams for the future: “I would like to be a successful leader in Ministry, specifically in Youth Ministry, and secondly, an international business entrepreneur with my head office in London!”

To make this possible, Ali plans to work hard in his business, save money well, invest money wisely to expand and lastly, “pray to God to give [him] wisdom and strength to accomplish all these.”

If you would like to help make a difference in the lives of entrepreneurs like Ali, contact CAST on (031) 266 8830 or email: info@cast.org.za or you may contact Joseph Bode, the Nairobi Area Manager at joseph@cast.org.za.

0

Leading the Way in Mathare, Kenya: Joyce’s Story

CAST-kenya-local-economic-development02

38-year-old Joyce Alinda lives in the Mathare slum in Kenya and helps women to become financially stable by teaching them beadwork and business skills. When the Local Economic Development programme was introduced to a group of pastors in Huruma, Kenya in early 2018, Joyce, one of the pastors’ wives, jumped on board to volunteer as a business trainer and mentor. “I was inspired once I learnt the vision of CAST” she says, “and I love community work and empowering others.”

CAST Kenya launched in March 2018 and has grown in leaps and bounds. In the past 9 months, already 102 people have successfully completed the Business Experience Course and 58 have graduated from the Business Growth Courses and are on their way to starting their own businesses.

Facilitating Bible study as part of the business training takes the teachings beyond pure academics, it opens the door for participants to be guided by Christian values. “I have seen the need to involve God in every part of life including our businesses. This has challenged me to encourage others to seek to run an honest business.”

Living in the Mathare slums with her husband and two children, Joyce has always been an active member serving her community. Her latest project has helped empower the women in her area through teaching beadwork and business skills that she has learnt from the programme. She also intends starting a much-needed day-care centre.

In a personal capacity, Joyce has also gained confidence in her ability to lead and now aspires to be a motivational speaker. She has since organized a fellowship group for the other pastors’ wives in her community and has been inspired by the programme to grow in her spiritual development by memorizing verses from scripture.

If you would like to get involved in training or mentoring entrepreneurs, or help support CAST Kenya, contact us at: info@cast.org.za or (031) 266 8830. Alternatively, contact the East Africa-Kenya Office at: joseph@cast.org.za or (+254) 772 667364.

0

Local Economic Development in Lamontville

IMG_0708

From Left to Right: Florence Mbutho, Thembekile Dube, Jabulile Sosibo, Christina Moloyi

CAST recently hosted a Graduation Day for participants who successfully completed the Business Growth Course in Lamontville. Four of the ladies in this programme are part of a Sewing & Support Group launched this year at Lamontville Baptist Church, and spoke about how their lives have changed since joining CAST:

 

When/how did you first hear about CAST?

Florence Mbutho: I’ve been involved with CAST for many years, and first heard about it from neighbours who directed me to get help. I had been living on a social grant.

Thembekile Dube: I’ve been involved with CAST for 3-4 months. I heard about it from a friend who was collecting food parcels. I had been receiving food from the local soup kitchen but soon learnt that not only does CAST help people by distributing food parcels, there are other areas where they help people.

Christina Moloyi:  Three years ago, I heard about CAST through neighbours. I was going through family difficulties, and came to CAST for help and was added as a food parcel recipient. I am a skilled seamstress and had been selling clothes, but it wasn’t enough to support my family.

Jabulile Sosibo: It’s been 3-4 months that I’ve been involved with CAST, and I also heard about it from a neighbour.

 

How has your participation in the CAST programmes benefitted you?

Florence: My grandchild started attending WordWorks. I have also benefitted from other CAST programmes. I have even found a ‘sister’ through the support group. I crochet hats, scarves, and recently made a jersey, and am able to improvise the pattern for variety. I previously worked as a cleaner.

Thembekile: I joined the support group and have been knitting. The business training has helped. I previously worked in a clothing factory as a presser and fuser, gaining valuable skills in machine work.

Christina: I joined the support group and find it a good place to share my experiences with other women. I previously worked in a clothing factory as a machinist, but am now learning how to save and run a business, and recently had a request from CAST to sew items for selling.

Jabulile: My children have attended Holiday Club and I have participated in the Sewing Group for Business Development. I am a qualified machinist, having worked with Cover Seam and Overlock Safety machines, becoming well-practiced in the blind stitch techniques.

 

How has this affected your spiritual life?

Florence: I currently attend an Anglican Church. I have not been able to make it to Lamontville Baptist services because of my leg swelling which has limited my mobility. I also often babysits on Sundays, but would like to attend Lamontville Baptist in future. I once attended a service at Westville Baptist and enjoyed it very much.

Thembekile: Spiritually, I have come to know God, and make time to pray every morning when I wake up. I currently attend the Apostolic Church, but am thinking of going to Wesleyan Church.

Christina: I have learnt to pray and worship God. I currently attend the Dutch Reformed Church, but am still looking for a ‘home’ church.

Jabulile: I was in a bad a space, but started coming to church and have come to know God. I now feel that I have a reason to get up in the morning. I attend Nazareth Church.

 

Going forward, what are your plans for the future, and what assistance do you need?

Florence: To improve my business, I need to find the right space/location to set up a stand to sell my products. I have a daughter who also knows how to sew, and can assist with networking. I am planning to make traditional skirts, baby wraps, and more crocheted items. I also know a relative who can stitch.

Thembekile: Going forward, I would like to gain more skills in sewing, and get the necessary equipment and capital to start my business. I don’t have any family support. At the moment, I do manicures and sells hair pieces for income.

Christina: I am passionate about sewing and have gained business skills, which I am looking forward to putting into practice. For my business I will need a new overlock machine to make a better quality product with other designs to attract more customers. I feel that I have the skills, but just need the starting capital. My daughter has learnt to how to stitch, so we can work together.

Jabulile: I want to open a Spaza shop and sell fast foods. I will need the equipment, such as plates, a stove and starting capital. I know how to prepare food. One of my daughters attended a culinary school and has learnt how to cook pastry. I see it as a good opportunity to work with my daughter.

If you would like to mentor any of these ladies or learn more about CAST’s Local Economic Development programme, please contact Janet Okoye at: janet@cast.org.za or 031 266 8830