The importance of saving: the pillow maker in Samora, Cape Town

Compiled by Carmen Cancellari (on behalf of CORC)

Through the Federation Income Generation Programme, FEDUP savers have an opportunity to establish small businesses to generate income through accessing and repaying loans. 

The financial aspect is crucial, but how can the Federation contribute to building solidarity and sharing among FEDUP business women? The experience of Patience, a resident in the informal settlement of Samora in Philippi, Cape Town, gives us some insights about the impact of FEDUP in the life of women.

My name is Patience and I live here in Samora, Philippi.  For a living I have my own business, I make pillows. Now it’s been 7 years that I have been doing this. The first time I heard about the Federation it was in 2013, and that is also when I got my first loan.

What changed after receiving the FIGP (Federation Income Generation Program) loans was mainly in relation to the stock for my business. In fact, I was able to increase stock for my business and this also resulted in the increase of my profit. This helped me at home because I was responsible for my child’s education fees, who was studying at University of Western Cape, and since I could pay for her studies, she was able to continue and she graduated last year. So this is what was important, because my intentions and priorities have always been helping her to finish school.

Even at home I was able to fix some of the things. For example I managed to extend our house, I added two rooms and I saved some of the money… if it wasn’t for the loan I can say it was almost impossible to do all of this because I did not make enough profit from my business.

My business grew already a lot but I don’t want to stop here. At the moment, I am busy saving so that I can be able to buy a container. In fact now I cannot employ someone to help me because there is no space for both of us to work. Instead, I want someone who is going to help me because making pillows is very difficult and my business really needs me to hire someone. As a result of the stock which has increased in fact, my job has also increased and this is why I need someone to help me.

With my savings I think I will be able to buy the container next year January. And I do not want to rush it and end up having debts that I will not be able to pay back…I just want to save and know that I will be able to buy it.

Savings in fact is the heart of the Federation. My business improved a lot because through the Federation I learnt a lot about saving. Nolwando, one of the Federation coordinator, always teaches us about saving on top of the loans, and this way I have learnt how to save. There were times where I did not save at all and I was using my money on useless things.

I remember when I was working in Tsusa, there was a lady working with us who used to buy meat on a regular basis. She would make three orders a week! So one day I told her, as a person who was taught how to save, that she could save the R60 that she was spending on buying meat by, for example, eating cabbage and meals that she had prepared at home!

So the federation has helped me because now I am able to save and I can also help other people. And even today that lady has not forgotten me because I really helped her.

Patience (left) with FEDUP loans facilitator, Nolwando (centre)

 

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