2017-12-19 06:00

“I always had a passion for gardening, especially growing my own food. In 2016, when I saw an advertisement in the paper looking for unemployed youth who had business ideas and who could possibly empower the community, I immediately took the opportunity to take my nursery idea and enter the competition,” she says.

“This was my first competition entered and my idea was selected. I came in third place in #YouthStartCT, a City of Cape Town programme. At this time my business was just an idea and then I transformed the idea into reality by using the award to register my business and get the necessary start-up stock with the R5000 cash prize.”

She never stopped wanting to enter other competitions and go bigger. Manuel says she excitedly entered this year’s Pitch and Polish competition.

“It was my first time competing in an event like this and it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for my family and me. This was now something different to the norm as I now had to think bigger and brighter,” she says.

She says the programme is designed to give smaller communities input on how to polish their business pitches. It is also an opportunity to have their ideas brainstormed and tested, while learning valuable business skills to create a well-informed investor-ready pitch.

“It was also a great opportunity for me to get the experience needed to grow my business. They gave us workshops throughout the competition and educated us with various skills. I thought to myself, how can I use this nursery to empower the community of Hanover Park? This was the initiative coming from me after being unemployed and my aim now was to grow it with the hopes of teaching others.”

Manuel says that her achievement in bringing home another third-place trophy to her community proves that any unemployed and single mother can achieve their goals.

“Our mothers and unemployed people in Hanover Park need to believe in themselves. With enough determination and effort you can achieve anything. This was a huge learning curve that your circumstances should not define you,” she says.

“GrowBox is a legacy from me to my children and if we work together we can make a success out of this. I want to empower others and so I want to give them the opportunity to grow their own food no matter where they live.”

She says her local company has a good relationship with The Ark, the organisation that makes the boxes for her.

“From here I then grow the vegetable seedlings and do it according to what the customers like. I give them the boxes fully stocked with grow-medium and seedlings in an easy veggie garden setup,” explains Manuel.

“I already have a number of customers and hope to grow my business. I am the only person in the household that brings bread to the table and I depend on my GrowBox income. There is still a lot that I need to learn. I spoke to my mentor last week and we looked at my goals towards 2018. I would like to get more training and additional support to grow bigger. I would also like to empower and grow my own community, especially unemployed mothers. I want to extend a helping hand.”

V For more information, visit GrowBox on Facebook or call 0763033205.


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