Swaziland: Nomcebo Dlamini

Date: April 24, 2017
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Nomcebo Dlamini is a 40-year old woman who is a designer and dressmaker. She is from Sidwashini south, Mbabanein the Hhohho region. She stays with her family and her 10-year-old son. Nomcebo is physically disabled. She was knocked down by a car when she was 4years old while coming from pre-school. This accident resulted in her losing her right leg and she is now using crutches to assist her on walking. Nomcebo underwent training as a dressmaker at Sidwashini Vocational Training Centre and has been in the sewing business for 8 years. She is a self-motivated woman and she believes that every person must have an equal chance in life, whether disabled or not. Nomcebo decided to overcome her disability by starting the sewing business, and showing people that nothing could stop her from achieving what she wanted in life. She did not want to use her disability as an excuse for not being successful.

A history of the beneficiary’s learning journey with GL

Nomcebo started knowing about Gender Links in 2013, when she as invited to a workshop at Thokoza Church Center, through the Mbabane Municipality. This workshop was basically for women who have survived abuse, and was intended to empower them. She said the purpose of the workshop was to “break the barriers” around the women who have survived abuse. This is where women were empowered to start businesses, and those who already had, were encouraged to grow them in order for their lives to be better.

Following that first encounter, Dlamini then also attended other workshops by Gender Links, where they were taught about how to write Business Plans. She was so motivated by this because she even became one of the winners whose Business plan became successful during the presentation. Since then she never looked back, she has been going on with her business. In another workshop they were taught about record-keeping and saving for their businesses, where she says she gained a lot of insight about the money she spent and made through the business. Nomcebo said she used to make a lot of money but because she did not know how to manage it, she could not see where it was spent. However, after Gender Links taught her about how to save, she has slowly seen the progress.

On her journey with Gender Links, Nomcebo has learned how to grow her business because everything that has been taught to her has opened her eyes to bringing new ideas into her sewing business. Apart from growing the business, Nomcebo has made a name for herself in the country and in South Africa through winning awards for Emerging Entrepreneurs. This was in 2014 and 2017. Her determination and passion for her business has made her shine. This also encouraged her to join other competitions which helped in boosting her business.

Dlamini says during her 8 years in the sewing business, she has had so many difficulties, which were both physical and financial. Because of her disability and the lack of proper financial management skills, she was not able to see her profits since she had to send people to buy her materials and sewing equipment. People would usually overcharge her, which resulted in her losing a lot of money. Sometimes the people she sent would not bring the right material which required her to change it and that alone would be another expense.  However, since her knowledge learned from the Gender Links workshops, she has been able to minimize costs and save as much as she can.

Analysis of how and why this life has changed

Dlamini’s life has changed very considerably because she is now able to provide for his family and his son, while before she only dependent on his father. She is now able to assist in paying bills for the house and buying herself things that she like. She has also gained confidence in the society because she is now able to interact with many people, and they have learned to accept her and her condition, as an oversized and disabled woman. She can now confidently talk about her disability without being ashamed of what people will say about her, as she often quotes that “every person has their own disability, whether they know it or they don’t.” Not only has Nomcebo changed her own life, but she has also inspired other people by showing them that nothing, not even physical disability can stop a person from achieving their dream.

The bigger picture

Nomcebo has very good dreams and plans about her future in the sewing business. She plans to officially register her business so that she acquires operating space in town. She wants to train and hire people who are going to work in her company, because she looking forward to growing the business. She also wants to open a bank account that will be specifically for the business because currently she is saving on her personal account which makes it a bit difficult to know how much she has saved from the business. In future, she hopes to open a school where she will train people living with disability how to sew.

Apart from the business dream, Nomcebo wishes to stand in in the next local elections, to represent both women and people living with disability. She says she wants to advocate for women’s rights and the rights of people living with disability because they are always left out in decision making.