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From homeless job seeker to budding entrepreneur

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

Josua Juwele (21) was looking for a job when the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit South Africa last year. As a result of the devastating effects of the pandemic, he landed up homeless on the streets of Johannesburg. Josua Juwele has not let a pandemic or being homeless stand in the way of this dreams.

But thanks to the help offered by the Gauteng Department of Social Development and the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), Juwele now fixes sofas for a living.

It all started in March 2020, when President Cyril Ramaphosa placed the country in national lockdown.

Juwele, who is originally from Upington in the Northern Cape, had no option but to move out of his friend’s Randburg home to a homeless shelter as he had no money.

“I lived with my friend since 2018, trying to find a job. He assisted me with money for transport for interviews, but when the country was put in lockdown, I could not impose on him anymore,” he explains

Juwele then heard an announcement from the department on the radio that said homeless people in Gauteng would be offered shelter during the lockdown.

“I stayed at a shelter in Bezuidenhout Valley and moved to Hillbrow in mid-September,” he says.

As part of an exit plan for those at the shelters, Juwele enrolled in the five-day entrepreneurship training programme run by the department and Seda. He was taught how to draw up a business plan and learnt about public relations and customer care.

Juwele later enrolled in an upholstery course that taught him to fix sofas and now plans to register a business. “I am going to start an upholstery shop,” he says.

With money he makes from the shop, Juwele wants to complete his psychology studies at the University of South Africa.

“I want to be a social worker. I have witnessed how proactive and directly involved they are with people at shelters,” he says.

For more information about skills development training programmes, contact the Gauteng Department of Social Development at 011 355 7600 or approach your closest homeless shelter.