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Artisan’s business grows despite lockdown

Writen by Silusapho Nyanda

An aluminium frame constructing business, owned by a young woman, is growing in leaps and bounds. Sarah Mogashoa, owner of Bahwithi Construction and Aluminium Framing.

Bahwithi Construction and Aluminium Framing, started in 2015, no longer operates from the home of its owner, Sarah Mogashoa (32). Instead, thanks to R50 000 National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) funding – through its 1 000 Youth-Owned Enterprises in 100 Days initiative – Bahwithi proudly occupies its own business premises. 

She bought new machinery and relocated her business to an area that will enable her to find new clients for the aluminium doors, windows and gates that Bahwithi produces.

“Currently, we mainly service businesses around Polokwane and I want to grow beyond that,” she says.

During the early days of the lockdown, with only essential services and industries allowed to operate, Mogashoa says her business ground to a halt.

She had to find new ways of keeping the business afloat and she resorted to doing repair work. This was also to ensure that she can continue to pay the salaries of her five employees. 

Furthermore, she had an idea to design, manufacture and fit aluminium frames for both homes and business premises. This helped sustain her business during the different stages of the lockdown.

Operating in a male-dominated industry has had its challenges. Despite being a skilled artisan, Mogashoa lost clients because of her gender. “There are people who come to my business but when they learn that a woman is in charge, they don’t want to use our services.

“As a woman in this field, I am frequently discriminated against. I want people to give me a chance and judge me on my work rather than my gender,” says Mogashoa.

In order to end the discrimination that she has experienced, Mogashoa urges more women to train as artisans.

The 1 000 Youth-Owned Enterprises in 100 Days initiative funded 1 000 youth-owned businesses. Funding was given to businesses that showed the capacity to grow and innovate.

Mogashoa says funding initiatives like these help create more youth entrepreneurs who can create job opportunities. Given how hard it is to find a job, it is important to enable more people to earn a living.