Rising out of the ashes: A journey from loss to legacy

Bongiwe Jonga: A Taking Care of Business (TCB) Success Story
Khayelitsha, 42 years old, mother of 2

Everything I owned was gone

I graduated from the Taking Care of Business (TCB) Remake programme in 2022. Before I joined TCB I was just coming out of a domestic violence marriage. My house had also burnt down and I had to move in with my mother, everything I owned was gone. I felt like my life was over. I had worked so hard for so many years, building myself up and I lost it all in one night.

Being over 35 made it hard to find a job. I did odd jobs but my dream was always to become a fashion designer so I started to learn how to sew. Then my friend told me about TCB’s open day and I attended, I knew immediately that this was what I wanted.

Head, hands and heart: Holistic healing for solid growth

When I started at TCB I felt that my life was going to change but, in my mind, I still felt stuck, I had a lot of baggage from my past that was holding me back. But through TCB I had access to counselling, coaching, occupational intelligence training and I was finally given the chance to speak. It helped me grow and become confident. I became a new me.

Meeting women that were going through the same thing, I felt like I wasn’t alone. I was part of a sisterhood where everyone helped each other to grow.

There’s a big difference in my life now. I have a brighter future. Back then I couldn’t afford to let my child go to excursions for school, it hurt.

In the mentoring we are taught how to save and given a lesson on budgeting. Now my children know I always have money saved up for them. I have been given financial freedom.

The business and financial skills and record keeping that I learnt at TCB ended up helping me to get the funding and donations of industrial sewing machines to start my business. My business is now registered and I was able to start my brand, Eladowear and a CMT with 2 other colleagues. 

Paying it forward

My brand is called Eladowear. I want to leave a legacy for my kids and community. The reason I started Eladowear was because when I came out of my marriage we couldn’t afford nice clothes and my kids had to watch other kids wear nice clothes. I started noticing other single mothers in my community going through the same thing. 

I wanted to create a brand that could give single mothers the chance to afford quality clothes.

To the women who have gone or are going through a domestic violence relationship I want to say, “Think about yourself and your kids, don’t think because you don’t have money that you can’t move forward. Your happiness and health are very important. There are many places that can help you. My CMT, Kamvelihle is open to help you too. Part of our vision is to pay back what we were given by TCB. We want to pay forward and help as many women as we can. Women can come to us to learn how to sew and they can start making clothes to sell.

Kamvelihle CMT Projects was started with 2 of my partners Nomawabo Chinche and Abigail Masholoko. We started in November 2022 after graduating from the Remake programme. We wanted to make a difference. There are a lot of women out there who cannot sew but they want to start their own businesses. For example, if they want to sell pencil cases, then we sew it for them and they sell it as part of their own businesses. We have quite a few big clients now. We love the concept that we are helping other people.

My dream for my future

My businesses make me feel like I have achieved something. We are still at the early stages and there is a lot that we still need but I am excited about where it’s going.

My dream for the future is to see both my businesses grow, I want to make an impact by helping other women. I advise other people who want to start their own business to believe in themselves.

Watch Bongiwe tell her inspiring story.

Business details:
Kamvelihle CMT Projects and Eladowear
30 Msobomvu Drive, Ilitha Park, Khayelitsha
Bongiwe Jonga: 0710373433

Taking Care of Business (TCB) is a nonprofit social enterprise. We are empowering unemployed South Africans and their families to escape the cycle of poverty through small business opportunities, mostly within the circular economy.