From not having access to running water inside their homes nor access to a working fridge, women from communities in and around the eThekwini region are slowly turning their lives around with the assistance of The Clothing Bank, a non-profit organisation.
The Clothing Bank places deserving women in an in-house business and life skills training programme, focused on the selling of clothing.
The women are equipped with skills to start their own businesses and become financially independent. The organisation recently moved to new premises in Umbilo Road.
“We choose women based on their willingness to participate in the two-year programme and based on an assessment we undertake, which we call the “poverty stoplight”.
It assesses what access they have to a tap, whether it’s inside or outside, how far they have to walk to fetch water, whether they have access to a fridge, or a stove.
“This tells us their financial situation, but the most important part is that they want to take the opportunity to build themselves up,” said Tanya Price-Carr, who heads the Durban branch of the national organisation.
The Clothing Bank was founded in Cape Town in February 2010 by Tracey Chambers and Tracey Gilmore.
Several national retailers donate their brand-new excess stock to The Clothing Bank.
The items are purchased by the women in the programme for a fraction of the retail cost and then resold.
According to its latest reports, The Clothing Bank has 781 women nationally who traded and made over R29million in profits from their businesses in 2016.
“Many women who go on the programme have gone on to build themselves. As an example, one purchased a car and now transports children to school and another opened up an internet café.
“They are able to support their families now, taking them out of the poverty cycle,” said Price-Carr.
One of the women who has just started on the programme, Nosindiso Joka, said: “This is a great opportunity for me. I want to join the working world and make money. I enjoy going to class and one day I hope I’ll have my own business.”
Price-Carr said the organisation also ran a skills programme for men, training them in fixing small appliances.
“We get stock from a major retail store, which includes items that have been returned by customers or have a small fixable problem.
“The men can then purchase the items and resell. The items that cannot be fixed we send to an electronic waste recycling company,” she said.