Creating Opportunity For Others

Photo by Stephen Elliot in association with

I press the fabric down as I listen to the rhythmic humming of the machine.

I stop the machine and hold up the shirt, examining the seams and admiring the even lines. I take out a pair of scissors and cut off a stray thread.

Fabric, thread, skilled eyes and trained hands—these four things have gone a long way in creating opportunity in an area where second chances seem as scarce as money.

I remember the many days I woke to the sounds of my seven children. Seven children—and no father to walk through the door at the end of the day.

I found myself with only
one open door—sewing.

I know about sacrifice. I remember how, at 16, I left school to provide for my five siblings. I learned to sew at a factory. Then I slowly developed an eye to create patterns and trained my hands to make those patterns realities in fabric.

When I started my business, I knew how to sew, but managing a business was a new skill I had to learn.

I needed customers. After I printed my first business cards, I went to a trade expo. Hand to hand, I passed out all my business cards.

When you have hungry
mouths at home,
you just can’t quit.

And God opened a door.

One of the hands I pressed my card into was a representative from Coca-Cola, who soon gave me an order for half a million aprons embroidered with their logo.

I now hang the shirt on a hanger and smile. My business continues to grow, employing more than 10 others in my community. Running a business is hard work. Some days I come home empty-handed, barely able to pay my workers. Other days, like today, we work late into the night finishing an order.

As I blink the needed sleep from my eyes, I watch the sun rise from the small window in my factory. There’s a joy in my heart as I look around the room and realize that I’ve created opportunity—not just for myself, but for others, too.

How You Can Help

Donate today! Everything gets us closer to seeing this become a reality for a growing cadre of entrepreneurs. Live in Africa? Launch Paradigm Shift in your community.

If you haven’t received your free eBook of Resilience: Portraits of a New South Africa, go here to get your copy.

Paradigm Shift © Copyright 2024. All rights reserved.