Sivu quit her admin job and used R1 250 to start her laundry business which now employs 18 people

Sivu Mongo founded Ziyahlanjwa Laundry Services which has won several awards. Images supplied by Sivu Mongo.
Sivu Mongo founded Ziyahlanjwa Laundry Services which has won several awards. Images supplied by Sivu Mongo.
  • Sivu Mongo took a leap of faith when she quit her admin job to start a laundry service with only a broken washing machine and just over R1 000.
  • When the business started to boom, she asked her husband to quit his job and instead invest his time in the family business.
  • Since those early days, Ziyahlanjwa Laundry Services has grown and won several awards.

With nothing but a broken washing machine, Sivu Mongo from Khayelitsha decided to start her business, however quitting her Admin job caused a lot of worry to her family, especially her kids. Moreover, Ziyahlanjwa Laundry Services started at their home, occupying the dining room and leaving the family with less privacy. "We had to shift things around in the house to have enough space for me to work," says Sivu.

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Women in business
Ziyahlanjwa Laundry Services has won several awards. All Images supplied by Sivu Mongo.

Sivu says at the time she couldn't afford a laundry scale. So, she had to buy a R500 food scale, as well as a second-hand 5kg tumble dryer at the cost of R750 - bringing her total investment in the business to R1 250.

"I registered my business and created flyers, which my daughter took to school by mistake. During lunchtime the flyers accidentally fell, and her teachers saw them; by the weekend, my home was flooded by laundry," she says.

Initially her daughter was embarrassed because she didn't understand her mother's concept of washing clothes for other people. One of the reasons why she started her business is because she also struggled with doing laundry herself. She was working and did not have the time to do laundry and whenever she did it, she would forget the clothes on the washing line once they dried.

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Sivu then decided to do market research in her township of Khayelitsha to figure out if people had the same problem as and if they needed her services.People laughed because they thought her business was not going to work, judging from the set-up in her house. And they may have been correct if she had not persisted as she didn't make a profit for years after she started out.

"The demand was there, especially with the youth and were my target market because I knew they did not have time to do their laundry. It was a journey filled with challenges, for instance, sometimes, people would bring their laundry and the washing machine would be broken. But we did not give up and eventually the business grew and I needed more help as couldn't do it on my own. I asked my husband to leave his job so that we could focus on the business. He did because he believed in it too," says Sivu.

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women in business

In 2014 she got R75 000 funding from the Department of Economic Development, and she managed to buy more equipment and hired four people to help. "Then, in 2015, I was able to buy a property that had enough space for us to open a second branch in Mandelate, we also managed to buy a house for my family and moved from the small one we were squashed in," says Sivu.

Sivu says they charge each load at R75 and charge a separate amount for ironing with rates starting at R4 for a standard pillowcase and R7.50 for a duvet cover.

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She's scooped a couple of awards as a result of her dedication and determination. She won the 2015 Cape Talk and Sage One Small Business Award. Then in 2019, she was an overall winner of the Western Cape Recognition Award for the Township business category.

"I attended a women's class offered by SEDA, and I won an achievement award as well," Sivu shares. As hard as it was in the beginning, the journey has been worth it because her business now has 18 permanent employees. "I am happy to contribute to flattening the unemployment curve, and we hope we can do better as the business grows."

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