Some entrepreneurs are driven to make the world a better place. They prioritise paying it forward – doing good deeds for someone they don’t owe anything to. These charitable acts without the expectation of a return on investment certainly have their own reward: they forge a trail of kindness, promote workplace camaraderie and inspire new partnerships. Three entrepreneurs from different business sectors explain how they pay it forward.
Pumla Makaleni was appalled at the dilapidated condition of most schools in townships and she immediately knew she wanted to humanise these schools. Pumla adopted Masonwabe Primary School in Delft, Cape Town, an area torn apart by gang violence, high crime and poverty. She hoped that transforming the learning environment would have a positive impact on the students’ outlook on life and their grades.
Her company, Blackie Flooring, a specialist flooring company renovated the floors of the staff room and then repainted eight classrooms, including toilets. She also partnered with a philanthropic organisation, a tile firm and a carpeting company to complete the renovations.
“Being involved in projects like this makes my heart sing,” says Pumla. “I want the students to feel like human beings, to feel acknowledged and know that they matter.”
Jo-andra Cloete Greegory owns an organic poultry farm, Our Poultry Place, in Joostenberg Vlakte in the Western Cape. She started a Boer Maak n Plan programme to mentor and train more than 100 small poultry farmers in the Western Cape and beyond.
Jo-andra began the programme in 2017, a year after she started her farm because she realised that many poultry projects failed due to a lack of knowledge and training. Now she helps young farmers get their businesses off the ground. She supplies them with day-old chicks, medication and poultry equipment to start their projects.
“When I was starting out, I had a mentor and I vowed that whenever somebody comes knocking at my door, I will help,” says Jo-andra.
Her programme has created a strong network of poultry farmers in the country: “With our group of emerging farmers, I don’t see them as competitors as we share information on the health of the chickens and coops, as well as stocks. We help each other to sell chickens and we keep the customers happy through having a strong network.”
Jo-andra’s reward is seeing these farmers grow from strength to strength despite their challenges, like not having the correct tools and land to farm, as well as their excitement when they sell their first chickens.
Michelle Page and Shireen Onia are so committed to changing lives that they made it a strategic objective: they formed ServiceGurus to develop and empower people from all walks of life.
In addition to providing professional training and skills development, they partner with organisations to hold business skills workshops in poor communities who ordinarily would not be able to access this training.
Recently, they held a workshop to provide vital business skills to women in the impoverished area of Oceanview in Cape Town, teaching them how to build their businesses so that they could support their families. This training impacted not only the individuals who attended but had a ripple effect on their community as well.
ServiceGurus also hold business development workshops with small business owners, offering a lifeline to entrepreneurs who are trying to stay afloat during the pandemic.
“We are passionate about upskilling: we want to engage, enable and empower people so that they uplift their communities as well. It’s a game changer for us,” says Michelle.
These businesses show that you don’t need to have millions to give away to make a difference: a little goes a long way. These entrepreneurs also have a strong sense of purpose and they are determined that the world they leave behind will be infinitely better than the one they entered.
About the Author
Terrena Rathanlall is the SME Media Portfolio Manager at Fetola.
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