A burning desire to do more to uplift her community led Lelly Mntungwa to resign as a retail store manager and start her own clothing manufacturing business.
The 38-year-old from Msinga in KwaZulu-Natal says she saw a gap in the market when a leading retailer closed down.
In an effort to reduce the unemployment rate and poverty in the area, she grabbed the opportunity to empower the Msinga community through job creation and skills capacitation.
“In my community, young girls being abducted and forced into marriage even at the age of 16 is as common as dropping out of school to run a child-headed family. The situation compelled me to intervene and develop these ‘young wives’ through skills transfer,” said Mntungwa.
She added that a partnership with the Department of Higher Education had been forged to assist learners dropping out of school to complete their matric at no cost with 216 learners already part of the programme.
Without any financial assistance, she started her entrepreneurial journey and now affords more than 60 people a living.
“Women in remote areas don’t have access to information and resources to thrive and are neglected. Rural life is still very much dominated by a patriarchal system where women find themselves working harder to prove themselves.”
She said perseverance and hard work were her recipes for success in life and that the onus was on the individual to take advantage of the opportunities to succeed.
“I am not afraid of a challenge and I am somewhat of a risk taker. I believe skills transfer is a sustainable gift - it can empower people to become income generators and survive during difficult situations.”
Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN) whose mandate is to promote KZN as an investment destination, provided Mntungwa with business guidance.
“The turning point in my career was in 2016 when TIKZN did an Umzinyathi District Municipality roadshow. I was given an opportunity as an up-and-coming entrepreneur to deliver a presentation at the roadshow.
“Even though I probably had the least experience in the room, I capitalised on the opportunity given to me by TIKZN to expose my business.
“TIKZN encouraged me to view my business on a much larger scale and to identify opportunities to market my products internationally,” She said.
Did you know? TIKZN links international investors with small businesses in the province. For more information call 031 368 9600