The 1st May 2010 was a life changing day for Mandisa Sithole: her dream of becoming a business owner was realised.

Mandisa’s husband died many years ago, leaving her to raise three children alone. Every day, after long hours of work at a local school, Mandisa would work far into the night doing bead work which she sold to neighbours to make extra money.

Mandisa’s life began to change when she came to the CAST Kwadabeka Business Forum in Jan 2009. The purpose of our business forums is to help people in disadvantaged communities to start businesses, or grow the businesses they already have, by offering training, mentoring and practical assistance. Kwadabeka is the site of CAST’s first business forum which started in Nov 2008. Only six people came to the first meeting, but numbers grew steadily since. While attending the business forum, Mandisa learned the skills needed to start and run her own business.

At one meeting she heard about an opportunity  to run an African craft shop in the new  King Shaka  airport.   With the help of ESS, Umsobumvu (Training Partners with CAST) and Brigitte Gonggryp (her business mentor), Mandisa submitted her application and won the tender. Then the difficult task of raising R1 Million for rental, stock, marketing, and shop-fitting began—no small challenge for a new business owner with no credit history. Without the coaching and assistance of people like Brigitte, it would never have happened.

Since opening in May 2010, Mandisa’s shop,  eM’Native Collection, has flourished and now turns over about R200,000 monthly. Because of the success of the business,  Mandisa opened a second shop  in Westville at Village Market.

Many of us have skills that are desperately needed by people in poor communities –simply helping with advice and introducing people to new ideas can change their lives forever.

CAST has launched a Business Development website which can be found at or via the main website: Here you will find profiles of people who want to start businesses, need help growing their businesses or are looking for work experience in a specific area.

You can also get involved by training, offering opportunities or donating to a project. If God has gifted you with business skills, perhaps He is calling you to assist and empower people to provide for themselves and for their families.