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SAIE’s New Venture Creation Learnership – A Luck By Chance for Carol Mqeni

“Since childhood, my life has been a roller coaster ride. I was born in a family with four other siblings and today we are just three of us left. My marriage ended soon, but left me with three beautiful children, two boys and one girl. I live my life very independently and am not afraid to say that I am extremely business-minded.

For 11 years straight, I worked as a waitress in a restaurant in Cape Town on Loop Street. It was a thankless job and while at many times I wanted to quit, I did not have an option but to earn a living from it. I kept searching for jobs alongside and one day decided to do something in addition to my job – I decided to bake! I had no formal training in baking, but I was determined to increase my earnings and do something I always was interested in. My interest in baking arose as result of many interactions with my neighbor, who herself used to bake a lot from recipe books. When I told her I wanted to start baking too, she sat me down one day and showed me all her favorite recipes and gave me tips on making scones and muffins. So, I started making scones at my home early in the morning and then went to work. For the first few days, I put up a white board outside my yard to let the neighbors know that I was selling freshly baked scones. Soon, the word spread and people started coming to my house and buying from me. On one occasion, while I was working my shift at the restaurant, the restaurant building owner, who had heard that I was selling scones, came up to me and told me that he once saw a lady selling many scones on the taxi rank in town and suggested that I must do so too. So, the very next morning I decided to stop by the rank and sell my scones there. To my surprise, the scones got sold in a matter of seconds and I made a good sum of money. I then placed an advertisement in the City Vision newspaper and started receiving more orders on phone calls. At this point it was getting tiring for me to bake every morning and also waitress, so I decided to finally quit my job. Since 2007, I have been baking and selling scones and muffins and my big dream is to open a bakery of my own, but at the moment I have very limited funds to invest in my business.

I stumbled upon SAIE during my course at The Clothing Bank (TCB) in Observatory, Cape Town. The board outside the office looked very intriguing and made me question my lady colleagues at TCB about the organisation. When I learned that SAIE taught entrepreneurship, I took my son to their office to get him enrolled, but what I found there was a learning academy for adult entrepreneurs. It was God’s grace that lead me to this path as it was just the opportunity I was looking for. It has now been a year since I got enrolled at the New Venture Creation Learning Academy at SAIE and I have learned a lot since. In my baking business I did not know how to rightly price and position my products, but now with the help of SAIE’s teachings I know that I have to bear in mind labor, electricity, ingredients and all other important aspects while putting a price to my products. I also know how and where to do my business today. I believe that my colleagues and I came to SAIE as individuals and now we are a powerful team, like sisters and brothers. Our teachers at the academy have been the most understanding and patient people and I speak on behalf of all my colleagues that we are thankful for their loving and caring nature.”