Top business student training others too

A Mandalay woman’s hard work was recently rewarded after she turned her passion into a successful business.

Pinkie Luswazi’s company, Luspin Production, creates original, lively street-style and formal wear and decor items with a twist of Africa in the fabric and design.

She was named the top student with the highest mark overall of the Small Business Academy (SBA) development programme run by the University of Stellenbosch’s Business School (USB) at a ceremony on Monday last week.

The programme is a sponsored nine-month course, which helps refine the knowledge of small-business owners from previously disadvantaged communities in the greater Cape Town aimed at empowering them with business knowledge, networking opportunities and mentorship.

Luswazi believes empowerment is the answer for uplifting the community. She currently runs training programmes as a manager at Stitch 2 Stitch, a facility for unemployed single parents.

Her aim is to establish pattern -making, sewing and designing skills amongst unemployed women which will benefit Luspin Production in the long-run by having trained people to employ.

“It is such a proud moment when I see employees or trainees whom I have tutored over the years progress. Some are even currently running their own businesses. To become part of the solution in terms of unemployment, even on a small scale, is key to creating change and brings me immense pleasure,” Luswazi says.

Dr Marietjie Theron-Wepener, head of the SBA programme, says: “Small businesses play a leading role in developing our country. According to a study by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor and the Banking Association of South Africa over the last two years, the SME sector is estimated to contribute between 35% and 60% toward gross domestic product.

“But the reality is also that not all SMMEs survive their first years. Institutions such as the USB need to form partnerships with corporates to share their knowledge and skill set.

“By launching the SBA programme five years ago our aim was to fill the gap for business education by engaging with small-business owners, equipping them not only with knowledge but also providing mentorship and exposing them to opportunities to engage with large corporates.”

Luswazi says she wishes she had been exposed to the SBA programme earlier in her life.

“The SBA programme has had a tremendous impact on my business. If I had this kind of business resource when I first started out, Luspin Production would have progressed so much more. I have come to really understand the business side of things – simply having passion and talent is not enough to run a successful enterprise. I now have an effective marketing strategy, use social media, manage my finances with integrity and invest my finances with credible institutions,” she says.

Bigger premisesAlthough she is currently running her clothing design company from home, she has secured business premises in Khayelitsha.

“My major challenge currently is suitable space, which forces me to outsource some of the operations, resulting in me having to compromise on the quality. But that will soon be history.

“And as with any small business, lack of financial resources can be crippling at times. However, I try to focus on my goal of running a fully-fledged design and production company and all my efforts and thoughts are geared to making it succeed,” she says.

She started her business in Mthatha in 1997 with two machines gifted by her mother when she was still a teenager.

She relocated her business to Cape Town in July last year and her clientele is growing ­extensively.

She is currently focusing on a denim range and recently showcased her clothes at the Xperience Fashion show in Kenilworth.

She sells her decor items and clothing at a social market in Claremont.

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