Esther Simelane is 65 years old. Widowed with 6 children and 15 grandchildren, you’d think she’s ready for a nice retirement. Not Esther. Quite the opposite, in fact. Esther is what you’d call a mover and and a shaker. A dynamo.
It started back in 2010 when AfricaWorks Swaziland launched its poultry project, with the mission to provide opportunities for income generation and food security for those affected by HIV/AIDS, including orphans, caregivers, and single parents. AfricaWorks is a Local Community Institution and one of our strategic partners in southern Africa.
Esther was one of the first poultry farmers in this project.
With training from AfricaWorks, Esther began her journey by learning how to manage a poultry business. Running a poultry business is not always easy, and Esther learned that first hand. After a several cycles that were not very good, Esther pressed on and improved by successfully rearing 1,000 chicks, qualifying her to graduate to owning her very own business with 3,000 chicks.
Esther was then able to receive a loan from FINCORP, a micro-finance company in Swaziland. Because of this loan, her income improved significantly and she was earning three times what she was previously making—now able to support six of her grandchildren and paying the school fees for three of her children. Her youngest child just started highschool, her second youngest will be attending University in August, and her oldest daughter is in her fourth year at Wits University in South Africa. This growth and achievement began to encourage her family and dependents to learn her business and start rearing chicks.
Esther hatches other ideas.
Over the past 6 years with AfricaWorks Esther developed a business mind. This newfound business savvy has even led her to begin new businesses, employing more people, and improving her community.
She started a “tuck” shop business in December 2014, which is a small shop that sells necessities. Since she lives a long distance from town, having a shop like this is very convenient for her community and makes a great market for her business. She currently employs two people to run the shop.
Esther didn’t want to stop there, though. She was bit by the entrepreneurial bug again and has started a tree cutting business. This business is managed by her son and employs six more people in her community.
Again, Esther keeps going to improve her community. In February of this year, she drilled a borehole on her property due to the drought. Initially, this was built to ensure her poultry business had access to water. After realizing that others in her community needed access to water, she now provides water to community members when it’s needed.
When Esther first began her poultry business, she was making $164 per chick-rearing cycle. Today, she makes a profit of around $1,000 each month through all her businesses! She is also the chairperson of her local cooperative. With hard work, faith, and prayer, it is truly possible to move out of poverty and into business.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human master, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 2: 23-24