A recipient of the Social Relief of Distress Grant is sitting pretty after using her monthly R350 to start Lady Q Designs, a furniture-making business.
Single mother Maquoalesa Lekheakhoa Qwali (27), from Bethlehem in the Free State, used her artistic flair and entrepreneurial spirit to make a couch from old tyres.
“I’ve always wanted to start a business. When President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the R350 grant, I told myself that this was the perfect time to get started. I was sitting at home unemployed when I got the inspiration for the business,” she says.
“We always complain about needing capital. My capital was my R350 government grant. We must make the most of these scarce resources.”
Qwali’s ideas were inspired by YouTube videos. She used her grant money to buy a second-hand power drill and couch stapler.
The rest of her equipment was found at home – old wooden boards and clothes that she used to cover her first couch.
She was not happy with her first attempt and went back to the drawing board and kept on trying until she succeeded.
“Once I made a sofa that I was happy with, I started advertising my services and got an order for a two-seater couch.”
Since then, she has sold her furniture to residents of Bethlehem and other parts of the Free State. She says customers pay a deposit, which she uses to buy the materials she needs.
Qwali also does re-upholstering of old couches and invests her profits into growing the business by buying additional equipment.
She also supports her child and grandmother.
One of her challenges is pricing her furniture properly, so that her products are affordable but her business does not run at a loss.
Qwali's couches are sold from R1 500.
She has also learnt that waiting for start-up funds can sometimes kill dreams. People need to take a leap of faith and start a business, she advises.