Sithabile seeks to impact her community by fulfilling her dreams and goals.
She has managed to do so by establishing several projects such as..Langa – for rabbit and chicken rearing, Buffy Bakery – for commercial baking and currently working on an initiative called “Women in Wildlife Conservation”.
Her main interest in impacting communities is through mentoring youths and helping them in achieving personal goals for their lives and their contribution to social development.
In this article, Sthabile highlights how she’s developed herself personally and professionally, through leadership programs.
As an entrepreneur, what key strategies do you think are vital to running a sustainable business?
I founded ‘Langa Farm Produce’ after more than a month of always running to the banks looking for a start-up loan to start raising rabbits and free-range chickens.
The terms and conditions for that time to get the loan were unfavorable. I remember some words from one wise lady who said:
“You need to start small and build from there, and have a small project on the side as well that will enable you to get a $1 a day to inject into the bigger project”.
This is how I started baking commercially (start of Buffy Bakery) and with the profits made, Langa was started with just 3 rabbits and 20 free-range chickens. To-date we have managed to supply city butcheries and Langa has become self-sustainable.
The initial bigger project was Langa because the aim was to go international with the rabbit products. But Buffy Bakery got bigger as well through an increased clientele and high demands hence the need to also start mentoring and training young ladies and interested personnel.
It was through these projects that I realized that there is no such thing called a ‘small project’ but it’s up to you to view it as small or big.
To remain competitive in whatever industry they decide to venture in, be creative and innovative in your work.
Don’t just do it for money.
What made you apply for the YALI leadership program?
I knew YALI to be a professional platform where individuals are able to mature, develop and acquire skills that will benefit them in skilfully contributing towards the development of their communities, nations, and Africa as a whole.
By continuously following their programs on social media, I was keen to be part of their program and learn more about how best I can impact my community and network.
So I applied for the Cohort 17 program under Civic Leadership track.
What skills did you learn there and how will they help you?
I was under the Civic Leadership track – a program on how to impact our communities by being the change we want to see.
It focuses on improving the quality of life in our communities by identifying gaps and problems already there and using skill, knowledge, and values in tackling them and making a difference.
I obtained vast knowledge on the establishment of civil society organizations; proposal writing for projects and grant funding obtaining. Two major things I learned were:
1. How to run a business
YALI taught me the power of networking and partnerships.
In all that you do; you need people to work with; you can never work alone. A business is not for me nor my family but my community.
For me to be successful in whatever business I want to venture or I am in; the first question I should ask myself is how best will my community; a nation and Africa as a whole benefit from it and does it address the gaps that already exist in my community.
And to change our communities we need to share our skills and knowledge; build partnerships and network.
The depth of the knowledge I gained will allow me to achieve one of my goals I have had establishing a wildlife program mainly focused on resuscitation of idle parks and involving women in wildlife conservation.
As one of my previous challenges was obtaining funding for these projects; through YALI. I also learned the proper way of writing Grant/Fund request proposal.
2. Personal development
YALI taught me not to limit myself. To think of what happens when the vision and the goals are fulfilled; to ask myself “so do I just stop there because it has been fulfilled?”
I used to think maybe I am just doing a lot of projects at the same time and there is no way I will be able to tackle them all.
But through YALI I learned the power of building a team that shares the same vision with you; that will enable you to build the foundation and the groundwork that is needed and move on to the next thing that needs to be done.
I learned to be confident not only in myself but my work as well so as to be able to present and articulate it well to interested groups.
My advice to other aspiring game changers…
Decide to start and stand with your decision because the environment will never be conducive for you to do so.
Put your all into it; it doesn’t matter how many times you fall; rise up, dust yourself, learn from your mistakes and move forward.
Build before you can start putting profits in your own pocket but above all; give back to your community.
What challenges have you faced and how have you tackled them?
But we didn’t let that be a hindrance in achieving our goal. For these two projects, we had to start with what was in our pockets and a few resources.
Every profit we made was put towards building these projects and seeing them come to life.
Right now Buffy boasts of having a vast number of equipment attained through profits, and some of its profits were put toward Langa till it became self-sustainable.
For Langa, our greatest challenge was a continuous price hike of feed for both chickens and rabbits.
With the realization that the expenses were now too much, we began to grow our own feed, collect greens and seeds from the bushes and the market; and that reduced costs of buying feed.
Another problem we faced was the harsh hot weather conditions that affected and killed some of our rabbits.
Unfortunately, we could not contain that one and it resulted in a bad financial loss.