SMALL ENTERPRISE FOUNDATION
100% of the royalties from The Wealth Chef Book are donated to The Small Enterprise Foundation.
The Small Enterprise Foundation (SEF) is a not-for-profit, pro-poor micro-finance institution, in South Africa. SEF helps South Africa’s poorest communities, through women, to improve their lives and escape poverty by helping to provide access to appropriate financial services (such as small loans and savings accounts), new ways to generate income, and important information about their health, crops, income generating opportunities and finances.
The SEF’s mission – to give people the means to build their way out of poverty—resonates because it touches on a simple truth: Each of us has the power to change the world, and each of us has a responsibility to try. I know and believe in this truth and I believe you do too. So do the SEF’s 95 000 borrowers, scattered across rural villages in South Africa.
The SEF makes tiny loans to the poorest women in the country, giving them the opportunity to start or grow their own businesses without resorting to predatory loan sharks. They also provide basic money management and financial literacy education and require their borrowers to save, ensuring that the business is sustainable and that the relationship with money is healthy.
Women make up 100% percent of the SEF’s borrowers and, despite 95% of the borrowers being illiterate and innumerate, have proven to have a unique ability to lead their families out of poverty. These women were turned away from traditional banks and told that they were too poor.
With the SEF, they can stand up for their own interests. Here are just two stories as examples of the amazing work being done.
— Limpopo, South Africa
Born in 1954 in the small village of Sehlakong in Limpopo Province, Masale Modika is the second child and eldest daughter in a family of eight kids. Both her parents were uneducated and unemployed. She never had the opportunity to attend school, being the oldest daughter her mother counted on her to not only help with with their farming as the only way to feed the family but also for keeping the home and taking care of her younger siblings. Life was hard. Masale married at 25 years old and was blessed with a baby girl. Her husband was working but did not support her. They were living in a tin house and a small mud structure that was used as a kitchen. Masale’s husband left his family when their daughter was only five years old leaving Masale and their daughter destitute and looking for ways to survive. Masale started making the sorghum beer (Umqombothi) to make ends meet but the business didn’t go well. To try make some money she would sometimes do housework for a local woman who was a dressmaker. She learnt a lot from the woman just by observing how she was sewing. As Masale was moving about the village she used to see women gathered under the tree, one day she asked someone what those women were doing there. They explained that they were members of The Small Enterprise Foundation. She joined SEF, formed her own group and received a loan of just US$75. She bought an old model Singer sewing machine and some material and started sewing clothes and curtains for people. As time went by and the business grew she started selling blankets, sewing materials and boxes of washing soap. Wanting her own home, she decided to make her own bricks and bought a brick making machine. In no time people noticed how good her bricks were and started buying them from her. She now has a second successful business supplying bricks and has 14 employees. With the structure, support and savings mechanisms provided by SEF, Masale’s business continued to thrive and expand. She is now on her 7th loan cycle and is currently borrowing US$1000. Masale’s businesses are successful, she provides well for herself and her daughter, she build herself a beautiful house and bought two cars. She proudly shares that in her bank account she now has more than US$11,000 and in another account she has US$5,000. Her life is now something that she never dreamed it could be.
“Since I have become a member of SEF I have never gone to any person to ask for anything, I have known poverty for so long and am now at a happy place to see myself not knocking at strangers doors asking for food...Everything is becoming better with time.”
- Mpumalanga, South Africa
Born in 1976, Lester grew up in a very poor family, with a single female parent and her four siblings. Her mother worked at a lumber/timber manufacturing factory and what she was earning was so little that she could not afford to pay Lester’s school fees and so she had to drop out of school. Her sisters got married young to run away from the poverty and her brother also left home to find a job. Lester was now staying at home with her mother and two of her sister’s children. Thinking that she too could find a husband that would take care of her as her sisters had, Lester started dating, fell pregnant, and had a child and two more were to follow. She was falling prey to men who at the end wanted nothing to do with her or their young ones. She was fortunate to be hired where her mother used to work. Her earnings as a domesitc worker and her mother’s pension fund were helping the family and getting the children to school. But the situation was not improving at all, everything was getting more expensive, food, clothes and her travel costs to work. They were only affording the essential things which to them it was better than nothing. Having to leave her job to take care of her family, Lester was now left without any income and taking care of her nephew, niece and three children. She and her little family became a charity case, she was begging from strangers. After some time, SEF started its operations in Bushbuckridge where Lester lived. Hearing about their work she decided to join other women to improve her life. She asked for US$90 on her first and second loan which she used to buy paraffin and steel wool to sell. It was her first business and was thrilled to see it thriving and changing her life. On her third loan she asked for US$65 which she bought frozen yoghurts and juice to make ice blocks, she says this is a good business especially in summer.
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