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Wildlife  |  8 February 2018

Sew good! The story of Mama Saki and Mama Mbhele

Nomvuyo Khila (known as Mama Mbhele) and Nontobeko Caroline Saki, (known as Mama Saki), (two members of the Vela Sewing group in Ndwayana Village), were involved with sewing activities years before they started working with Ubunye in 2013. Although sewing has always been a passion for the two women, Mam Saki says what she has always longed for is the opportunity of a formal education. As a result of the challenges she faced during the apartheid era her dreams never materialized. “I have been involved in Ubunye programmes since 2013 as part of a Savings and Credit Group (SCG) member, Uthando Doll producers and now as a Vela Sewing Group member”, says Mama Saki. “There have been a number of trainings and workshops that we have attended with Ubunye that have increased our knowledge in sewing and how we can use our skill to the best of our advantage” she adds. 

The Vela Sewing Group produces for the Uthando range, (an umbrella brand developed by the Ubunye Foundation and supplying Kwandwe Private Game Reserve amongst other customers). Mama Mbhele says it is very difficult to run an income generation activity in their community. “Members of the community take a long time to pay you back when they have bought what we sew and there are always excuses” says Mama Mbhele. “Working through Ubunye’s Livelihoods programme brings stability to our income generating activity and if we work hard we know our products will sell”, says Mama Saki.

The women were amongst the first participants in Ubunye’s newly introduced Micro MBA (a micro-enterprise training programme developed by the Trident Institute). The training aims to teach people already engaged in small businesses how to operate their businesses more successfully by teaching basic skills in market investigation, costing and pricing and money management. The training is designed to cater for those who have limited formal literacy and numeracy skills and includes three months of fortnightly mentoring before participants receive a certificate.

“We are getting old now and we wish to transfer our skills to young people, but they lack interest in our community” says Mama Saki. During the Micro MBA Graduation in Glenmore village, they invited some of the young people to celebrate their day with them. They also used this platform to motivate young people to make better use of the skills and resources that they have locally. Some of the very same young people that were part of the graduation applied for Micro MBA training and are currently completing the course.


Kwandwe Private Game Reserve location map

Big Five Game Viewing

Kwandwe is one of the largest private Big Five game viewing areas in South Africa


With 54 000 acres of private wilderness, accommodating a maximum of 52 guests, making Kwandwe one of the highest land:guest ratios in South Africa

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Located perfectly for a self-drive or fly-in safari