The coming and going of cyclists from Songezo Jim’s cycling academy has become a regular sight since the professional cyclist started renting space at Chasmay Road. Songezo was aided in his move to the new premises by AWOL Tours who have helped him with sponsorship. AWOL have run a cycling tour of Masi for many years and have now decided to make their relationship with Songezo more formal. The AWOL bicycles are stored together with Songezo’s and the AWOL tour now begins at the Chasmay Road campus.
The new partnership was recently launched at an opening event on the campus. The AWOL Team invited the Songezo cycling academy cyclists to a BBQ / braai to meet the team. Nonny’s café and Mark’s braai bus provided a perfect launch feast and many plans for future cycling development were made.
The academy now has a workshop and storage space, and there is an opportunity to assist in developing Masiphumelele’s cycling legacy and training future AWOL cycling guides.
In addition to the regular cycling tour AWOL now introduce their guests to the Songezo cycling academy and also showcase the Masicorp crafters and artisans who share the premises at Chasmay Campus. During school term, the tour visits a local crèche and a proportion of every tourists booking fee continues to be donated to Masicorp to support the development of ECD in the community.
You can book the AWOL cycling tour HERE
We took the opportunity to catch up with our bursary students last weekend. Most of them were back in Masiphumelele for the break between the academic semesters. Fortunately it has been a trouble free period on campus at all universities in the Western Cape and good academic progress is being made. The teaching has been fairly intensive, with some catching up from modules that were only partially completed last academic year due to the Fees Must Fall demonstrations.
This event was mostly a social get-together, with the students appreciating the cooking from the bursary team and another wonderful cake from Nonny’s Bakery.
We also thank the mentors for attending and some of them also donated files and other materials to support the students. In particular we thank the Pack for a Purpose project for providing each student with a flash drive on which they can back up their studies.
Not all students could attend due to winter school and in-service training commitments. We received the following message from Zintle Magazi who is currently in Leuven, Belgium doing two courses in “European policies and politics” as well as ” Social immigration issues”. This is a summer school and is part of her course in International Studies.
The summer school has been a lot of fun thus far even though we have very long days. My normal day at KU Leuven University starts at 9 am and finishes at 6 pm, sometimes 7 or even 8 pm. Each lecture is about two hours long and very information-packed and comprehensive. I believe I know a lot more about Europe now and I’m interested to see how the European Union will deal with the competition from new rising world powers.
There are eight of us here from Stellenbosch University and we are amongst students from everywhere; some from Russia, China, Italy, Cameroon, Romania, Spain and the Netherlands. It’s so interesting hanging out with all of them and learning about each other’s ways of life through casual conversations or even joking with one another. It really is a blessing to be here and it is motivating me to keep working hard at school so that I can study my postgraduate studies in Germany.
It is now back to campus and for some students in-service training as their courses come to completion. Our continued thanks to all the sponsors and mentors that assist us in making this programme possible.
Last month Masicorp held an entrepreneur training event at the Business Hub at the Chasmay Road Campus. The event was delivered by ambassadors from Knowledge 2 Share, a non-profit organization from the Netherlands who we are pleased to partner with to develop the business development work we undertake in the community. Knowledge 2 Share have a mission to: “To empower entrepreneurs and to foster economic growth and development in developing areas across the globe.” For the past few months they have been in South Africa and we were delighted to host them here in Masiphumelele.
The training course ran one day a week for four weeks and was extremely well attended. Our thanks also go out the attendees from both Masiphumelele and Ocean View who took the time to participate. There were many presentations and quite a bit of theory around business development and marketing, but there was also a lot of time to discuss individual business ideas and work on funding and marketing plans.
It was not all theory – Khulah was also a guest lecturer. Khulah is a local entrepreneur from Khayelitsha. Although facing many of the same difficulties as members of the Masiphumelele community, Khulah managed to start his own company. He is the owner of the company Nurturer, through which he tries to make people aware of the importance of using ecofriendly products. He sells natural cleaning and personal beauty products. With his company he also provides jobs for his community with the use of direct sellers.
Nonesi Degraicia Matshoba, DG to her friends, was just one of our attendees. She used to be a chef, but wanted to start working for herself. She left the restaurant she worked at and started making braai meat. Now she has her own shop where she can serve customers. DG wants to develop her own business, but also inspire people to start up for themselves and make them aware that it is possible for everyone.
The course finished with each student being given the time to pitch their own business idea with feedback provided from the Knowledge 2 Share team. There was even a short graduation before it was time to head back home and start putting those plans into practice. We hope to be able to run more events in the future, given the high level of interest, so please look out for details of these events on our Facebook page.
We recently met up with one of Masiphumelele’s most famous residents, professional cyclist, Songezo Jim. Songezo has established a cycling academy in Masiphumelele and we are pleased to be able to help out by providing space for his bicycles at our premises at Chasmay Road campus. A couple of years ago Songezo was lucky enough to have received a donation of fifteen bicycles from a Dutch organisation and that has kick started his academy. You may have seen him leading groups of Masiphumelele youths out on the roads of the peninsula during the summer weekends.
Songezo has had an interesting journey to where he is at the moment, and provides an excellent role model to the youngsters of his home town. He was born in Umtata, Eastern Cape, where he had dreams of being the next Lucas Radebe (former Bafana Bafana captain) rather than a professional cyclist. It was when he moved to Masiphumelele in 2005 that he first developed an interest in cycling after he watched the Cape Argus as the racers passed the township on the way back into Cape Town. He could not ride a bicycle at the time, but he joined the Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy, a non-profit organisation that uses cycling to provide young people from disadvantaged communities with the opportunities they need to turn their lives around. A few years later and he was riding the Argus himself. He turned professional in 2013, moved up country to Johannesburg and went on to make history by being the first black South African to compete in a World Tour event. As a rider for MTN-Qhubeka (now Dimension Data) he finished the Vuelta a Espana in 2015.
Sadly he was later released by Dimension Data and finds himself ending 2016 without a team to ride for. The upside is that he has been able to return to Masi and focus on the development of his academy. With around 40 youngsters keen to participate he is having to take groups out in shifts using the 15 bicycles we currently have stored at the campus. While he is working on finding a new team to race his current need is for more bicycles, more helmets, and more spare parts. If you can help Songezo please contact him via facebook or twitter. Alternatively please visit his Back-a-Buddy campaign page to leave a donation.
Last weekend we celebrated the graduation of another cohort of adult learners on the Masicorp / Evangeline Ministries life skills course in Masiphumelele. It has been another successful six months, with 15 ladies – and one man – from the community upskilled in English and computing as well as learning practical sewing skills. The event was again excellently led by Wendy Ryan, with a inspirational speech from Masicorp director Carol Hanks.
Carol praised the graduates with A.A. Milnes famous quote “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think,” – expertly delivered in isiXhosa.
Here are a selection of the wonderful creations on show – all pictures courtesy of Louise de Waal from Green Girls in Africa.
As usual every graduate was rewarded with their own sewing machine to take away and continue their creative work.
In addition to promoting educational opportunities for the people of Masiphumelele, Masicorp has also provided ongoing business support to a number of entrepreneurs from the community. Examples include the long established Nonny’s Bakery and Nondeyebo Art, who now sell to tourists from their stall at the V&A Watershed.
In an attempt to formalize this part of our work and to increase the number of people that can be helped, we have established a Business Hub at our offices in the Chasmay Road campus. The Hub is staffed by a group of local business people who are volunteering their time and business expertise to help get new business ideas from the community up and running. Establishing a successful business is tough at the best of times, so the support offered from this initiative is likely to be critical to success on the ground.
The Business Hub meets formally every Wednesday, but potential entrepreneurs can call in to the offices any time to leave details of the business ideas they would like to be supported. The Hub can provide administrative support, access to IT services for existing businesses and can also match entrepreneurs with appropriate education programmes. We have contacts within the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), and can introduce community entrepreneurs to the support they provide.
Currently the Business Hub is talking to members of the community who have come forward with possible business ideas. We would like to talk to as many new entrepreneurs as possible and to discuss and assist with their business plans, marketing ideas and possibly even assist with loan funding where a strong potential for success is identified. The Hub volunteers can undertake SWOT analysis of new and existing businesses and help members of the community match their skills and services to those that are needed within the community.
Alongside support for new businesses we are also assisting existing businesses to grow with financial and administrative support. Many visitors to Masiphumelele will meet Ndileka Biyo and often purchase clothing from her Baby Shweshwe range. We recently helped Ndileka get her business online and have introduced her to many new selling opportunities at local markets. She has also received assistance in developing her new logo for Biyo Designs, which will cover her full range of products.
In addition Nonny has expanded her business to cater for tourists and other visitors to Masiphumelele, and she now provides delicious home cooked meals from her home. This has proven particularly popular with the visitors on AWOL Tours cycle tours of Masiphumelele. With a little help from the Business Hub team she is also considering the production of a cook book, to share her traditional recipes with a wider audience.
As we identify more local entrepreneurs and help to grow the existing businesses we support it is expected there will be many interesting stories to tell. Watch this space for more updates on this rapidly developing part of our work in the community.
The phrase “High Fashion and High Hopes” was the order of the day last Saturday as the latest group of graduates from the Evangeline Ministries life skills programme celebrated graduation with a fashion show. The programme, which is part funded by Masicorp, has run successfully for over five years and can boast more than 100 graduates. Sixteen more graduates from within the Masiphumelele community can now be added to that number.
As the ceremony started the new graduates danced their way into the graduation hall – kindly provided by our friends at Living Hope. Each graduate was wearing a selection of the clothing they had made during the previous six months, and they took it in turns to show off their outfits. There was a real mixtures of styles on show – from professional business suits to colourful dresses, and for the first time two male students presenting shirts (and a colourful hat).
The life skills programme has three components to it – computer training, English literacy and sewing skills. Each graduate received a certificate of competency in all three areas as well as a brand new sewing machine, from which they can continue to work from home and hopefully earn a future income.
For the programme manager, Wendy Ryan, it was a successful end to another six-month cycle, but only a brief respite in her work. With over 60 applications received already it will be straight back to work selecting the next group of students for the second half of 2015. We wish her well and express our congratulation to each of the new graduates.