Tending to animals to empower community

2018-10-30 06:00
Crownjul Pets owner Faeez Ebrahim and employee Ayanda Siyungu, tending to a rabbit at the shop. PHOTO: luvuyo mjekula

Crownjul Pets owner Faeez Ebrahim and employee Ayanda Siyungu, tending to a rabbit at the shop. PHOTO: luvuyo mjekula

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Faeez Ebrahim was just 12-years-old when he developed a passion for animals.

He would take a train to a friend’s place in Paarl, to learn about rabbits and birds.

“I have always been a pet person. Since I was small I was so fascinated by pets,” says Ebrahim.

If he was missing from his Kensington home, his mother would know he had gone to Paarl and summon him home.

“But they could not stop me, they could not keep me away from the animals,” Ebrahim laughs.

He recalls that anyone who owned animals in his community at the time would have to deal with him. “If I found out you had chickens and you were in the area, trust me I would be there after school.”

About three years ago, Ebrahim’s love for animals pointed him to an opportunity to empower people in his community while making a living out of his passion.

From a wendyhouse in Maitland’s Coronation Street, Ebrahim started collecting and selling pet food, especially for dogs.

“I then went on to birds and then other animals,” he says, adding that as the business made miniature steps, he made an unexpected breakthrough.

Afgri Animal Feeds, a supplier of animal feed products and services, approached Ebrahim and gave him the opportunity to help them distribute dog food. “They made me distributor of dog food for the Western Cape – a small person like me,” says
Ebrahim.

He says this proved to be “a stepping stone” to progress and he now runs Crownjul Pet Shop in Kensington.

Parrots from Brazil, guinea pigs from Australia, hamsters and rabbits are just some of the pets kept in the shop, while pet owners can buy their animals’ food there.

Ebrahim uses his business to empower the community.

“We are upskilling the people, for example, by giving them knowledge in terms of what type of flea products they need to use for the dogs and what basic necessities they have in terms of nutrition.”

He says members of the local community, especially children, are drawn to the shop and visit on a daily basis.

“Some of them have never seen a guinea pig in their life, some have never seen a rabbit. They are so fascinated, they want to know, what is this, what do you feed them? They always have little dogs and they don’t know the nutrition to give the animals.

“Now they start asking questions, and most of my customers come in afterwards and ask questions. One example is a guy who started off with birds and he was struggling a bit and so I gave him information on what to feed them and he says now the birds are healthy and are breeding.”

Ebrahim says he also works with dog owners from Bonteheuwel, Gugulethu and Langa and has started educating them about dog food and empowering them. “They see the difference by feeding the dogs quality food and not just being concerned with fleas and not being able to treat them,” he says.

Ebrahim is also a proud employer of local people. One of his employees, Ayanda Siyungu, says he has developed a love for some of the pets, particularly the parrots. He says his job is to look after the pets.

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