Local Entrepreneur Inspires TDG

A Tarkastad entrepreneur moved and inspired the Tarka Development Group family last week with her determination to be self-reliant and provide for her family, despite heartbreaking and discouraging odds.

Xolelwa Sixoko’s husband recently had a stroke which affected his mobility, resulting in him being unable to provide for his family. The Sixokos have four young children, with the youngest being an infant.

Before her husband became ill, Xolelwa used to operate a small spaza shop at her house selling snacks to add to the family’s small income. “After my husband was stricken by the stroke, Dr Justine Willemse and the hospital used to give my family groceries monthly”, says Xolelwa. “Although I appreciated this, it did not sit well with me as I wanted to have the pride of self-reliance and providing for my children’s needs and wants.”

Xolelwa says that one day when it was time to collect the groceries, she decided she would muster up courage and ask for a small loan from Dr Willemse so she could expand her business. “I just wanted a small loan to buy fruit and vegetables to add to the snack business so it could grow to help support my family”, says Xolelwa. She also added that she was confident because she had been selling to the community for years and already had necessary equipment and experience.

Dr Willemse referred her to her husband, Garvin Willemse, who is the chairperson of TDG. Garvin and Xolelwa came to the office to tell Xolelwa’s story to the TDG staff and to work out ways to assist her. We were so inspired by her persistence and hopeful spirit that TDG decided to approve a micro-loan on the same day, the value of which so far is R430, and is expected to rise to no more than R1000.

Xolelwa Sixoko and two of her children with some of the stock she was able to buy with the help of the TDG micro-loan. Photo: Loyiso Gxothiwe.
Xolelwa Sixoko and two of her children with some of the stock she was able to buy with the help of the TDG micro-loan. Photo: Loyiso Gxothiwe.

A TDG volunteer, Loyiso Gxothiwe, went to town with her to buy stock for the shop. The next day Garvin and Justine Willemse delivered a wood-fired oven that was donated to TDG by The Hope Factory. The oven was delivered to Xolelwa’s new shop location, which is a movable shack Xolelwa already had available to use as a stall. Garvin assisted to move the shack to the new location. Melleny Botha, who attended IKhala Trust’s ABCD workshop with TDG, came along to train her in how to bake bread in the ovens. Garvin will also assist her in obtaining fruit and veg from ProVeg in East London when they deliver to Tarkastad this Wednesday.

Under the terms of the agreement, she will not pay interest on the loan, and will have up to 12 months to repay it. The wood-fired ovens are being rented out at a nominal amount of R50 per month after the third month, to ensure they remain the property of Tarka Development Group and some psychological value is attached to them. There are currently three in the community, all of which were donated by The Hope Factory.

David Fourie of TDG stated that, although the organisation is not in a position to – or interested in – creating a business-model whereby we do these types of micro-loans on a regular basis, TDG is certainly committed to supporting other entrepreneurs with hand-ups (not hand-outs) if they can show their authenticity and when funds are available.