Meet the entrepreneurs who make a difference in townships

Two entrepreneurs were inspired to make a difference in their communities when essential health services were lacking.

By Terrena Rathanlall

Khayelitsha is a low income, densely populated township on the outskirts of Cape Town where health services are erratic.

Phumza Matwele has lived there all her life. As the daughter of a domestic worker and without a tertiary education, Phumza thought she would get a job just like everyone else. But what set her apart was her determination to improve her family and her neighbours’ access to quality healthcare.

That is why she started Eunimike Trading, one of the few over-the-counter pharmacies in Khayelitsha. Today, Eunimike bridges the gap between the community and health facilities. It was so popular, Phumza opened a second pharmacy and now provides employment for six people.

Phumza said she was raised in a poor and disciplined family and this inspired her to pursue her dreams: “My dream is to see that many segregated and local communities have access to basic medications and to set up local pharmacies, dispensary and first-aid service units in our local communities, where the health service providers are visible.”

In recent months the business has supported a significant amount of people who couldn’t go to clinics, hospitals, and travel to pharmacies to access medical supplies because of the risk of being infected with COVID-19 and other diseases.

“Now I would like the business to further maximise its social impact by expanding its reach to communities where such challenges are high. This feeds into my goal to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for the marginalised,” said Phumza.

The need for more efficient health services in informal settlements also motivated Agnes Pholose to start a business when her child fell ill at school.

Agnes is the owner of Tshepohope Consulting based in Diepsloot, Gauteng, and offers a transport service where she arranges to transport preschool and creche-going children to the clinic if they fall ill while at school and the parents are unable to take the child themselves. 

“My own daughter fell sick while at pre-school one day. The school tried to call me and couldn’t get hold of me. Eventually they ended up contacting my mother.

“One of the most common causes of illness among small children is diarrhoea and become dehydrated very quickly. Children can die waiting for their parents to come and pick them up. Some parents also do not have money, or it is late when they pick a child up and so will wait until the next day to take the child to the clinic,” said Agnes. 

She calls an Uber, takes sick children to a private clinic for treatment and returns the little one to the school.

“There is a shortage of clinics and there are always long queues at government clinics. That is why I use a private clinic and I have a good relationship with the staff there. There may still be a queue, but they know me and will give priority to my small patients,” she added. 

As a mother of three children, Agnes said the reward in her business is to see a child recovering because they received quick and efficient treatment. 

Tshepohope Consulting is a business on the FNB Social Entrepreneurship Impact Lab.

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