Thembisile Sambo has a new future nailed down, thanks to her love of carpentry.
The 36-year-old former maths teacher, who hails from Kanyamazane in Mpumalanga, has always loved wooden furniture and three years ago, switched chalk for chisel when she decided to do a course in carpentry.
“I realised that there are not a lot of women carpenters in South Africa. This motivated me even more to attain the skills and to become who I am today,” she said.
Sambo said many people advised her to hire men to do the physical work while she managed the business end of things but she remained undeterred.
“I wanted to know how to do the job because I am really passionate about making wooden products.”
And so began a new chapter, which started with Sambo learning everything she could about the furniture manufacturing industry and ended with her owning her own business.
The business has grown and Sambo had to hire additional carpenters but she remains hands-on. While she initially sold her products on a casual basis, early last year Sambo formalised her dream by registering her own company – Imvelo Interiors. She was also offered a learnership and workshop space by Furntech, which has a bilateral agreement with the Small Enterprise Development Agency to build skills development in furniture manufacturing.
Today, Imvelo employs three people on a permanent basis and offers part-time work when there are a high number of orders to meet.
“Most of my clients are local home-owners and business people in the tourism and hospitality industry,” she said.
Imvelo Interiors manufactures wooden furniture such as television stands, headboards, tables, chairs, wooden doors and window frames.
“I would love to create more jobs, especially for women, because I believe it is time that women realise they can do any kind of job. My focus for now is to get the business off the ground and have my own workshop,” she said.
Sambo advises young people, especially women, to consider a career as an artisan because there are a lot of opportunities available.