Meet Fridah – a “survivor entrepreneur”. She is the owner of ZoZo’s Bite, a restaurant in the central business district (CBD) of Pretoria or the City of Tshwane. She is 49 years old and she manages a decent size restaurant that seats about 20 customers at a time and serves about 200 customers a day. These customers are mostly from nearby businesses like the defense department, public works, telecom, police and the employees of the PEN. Her menu includes delicacies such as “Long Russian” and she claims she is the only one who serves Snoek fish on the menu in that neighborhood. She employs 3 people and makes a decent living that supports her family of 3 children and 2 grandchildren. So where are you going with this, you might wonder? The answer to that question starts about 6 years ago.
Fridah was employed as a cook by PEN in 2006 at their kitchen where she served children delicious food as part of PEN’s after school service. There were 2 other ladies to assist her but she managed the show. PEN is a faith based organization striving to care for the under privileged in the inner city and broader Tshwane areas through various initiatives. They are constantly working towards betterment of livelihood of people by providing basic needs such as food, clothing, housing, health services and psycho-social support. In 2009 they also started looking at self-sustaining efforts for qualified folks like Fridah. This is the humble beginning of the Tekanô initiative.
Fridah was asked to start a restaurant on the premises of PEN and take ownership of the business. With some initial reluctance for the fear of failing, she decided to jump right in and grab the opportunity (in her own words). The PEN organization assisted her with the initial capital required for all the necessary kitchen equipment and stock needed for the first month. They also waived the rental requirements for that entire year as an additional incentive to motivate and help Fridah. After 3 years, how does Fridah feel about her current situation? “I am so proud of PEN now and thankful for their service to the community. I was scared when they asked me take ownership and run this restaurant. But with help and coaching I was successful. And from my experience, I would ask people to grab such opportunities” says Fridah.
Tekanô is a Northern Sotho word meaning enough, adequacy as well as equality. The city of Tshwane is fast growing and people from rural areas as well as countries to the north of South Africa seem to flock to the city looking for better opportunities and earn a living. The objective of the Tekanô initiative, true to its meaning, is to lead folks like Fridah to self-sufficiency and attain a sustained state. The ultimate goal of this program is to provide a supportive environment for individuals and Small & Micro Enterprises (SMEs) at the grassroots level. PEN embarked on this pilot program by providing basic business training and enablement. To-date they have touched more than 45 entrepreneurs and provided close to 400 hours of training. This program is led by Jaco Smith with support from the PEN organization. Jaco is only 23 years old and a very enterprising chap.
I am here in Pretoria with my colleagues (Amarnath Jayaraman, Emily Gyory & Jan Teichmann) from SAP as part of our corporate social responsibility initiative called SAP Social Sabbatical. We will be here at Pretoria, South Africa working with PEN for the next 4 weeks to help Jaco and the PEN organization scale their enterprise development program to support more deserving and budding survivor entrepreneurs to put them on the path of self-sufficiency – one entrepreneur at a time!