A dream to lift women out of poverty has given birth to an award-winning business.
Businesswoman Ntomb- ekhaya Nonxuba (44) received the Woman-owned Business Award and went on to be named the Entrepreneur of the Year at the recent Western Cape Entrepreneurship Recognition Awards for her uniform-making business, Rise Uniforms.
Seeing snaking queues of young women collecting social grants, Nonxuba was moved to start a business that would help give these women stable jobs. She and her partners started out making shopping bags in 2007 before branching into the manufacture of school and church uniforms.
“I was disturbed by the number of young girls I saw waiting for social grants on my way to work. I wanted to start a business that would give people in my community a chance at making a decent income. That is why my business is located in Philippi township.
“The business currently employs 56 people, the majority of whom are young women from the township we are based in. These are young women who have children to support so the income they get from this job stimulates the local economy,” says Nonxuba.
Rise Uniform – owned and managed by Nonxuba – supplies uniforms to Pick n Pay and Boxer Superstores while a sister business, Rise Apparel, manufactures everyday clothes. In addition, disposable hospital gowns and N95 face masks are being manufactured using a high-end machine that was bought with R10 million funding from the National Empowerment Fund (NEF).
“We started manufacturing face masks to boost our business, which had suffered when the lockdown was declared in March.”
Nonxuba says when she started her business, she made branded Pick n Pay shopping bags for the supermarket, which helped raise the money needed to start making uniforms.
To get NEF funding, Nonxuba says businesses must first find out what funding opportunities are available.
She also recommends that entrepreneurs have a proper business plan before applying for funding. “A business plan must have details of what you are going to use the funds for; how the funds benefit the business and local communities; and who you are employing and will employ once you get funding. This will help show that funding you will be a good investment,” says Nonxuba.