When Fani Ketso first came to Johannesburg to find work in an effort to support his wife and three children back home, it was a struggle.
Ketso was forced to stand at an intersection with a black plastic bag, begging.
“That was very tough for me. I have very little,” he said.
With South Africa’s unemployment rate sitting at 26.7%, thousands of people who want to work sit at home unable to find employment.
Ketso didn’t want to remain unemployed nor did he want to continue asking for money from motorists.
It forced him to be creative and find his own means of income.
After nearly three years of begging, Ketso was helped by a pair of women to start his small business.
Since then, he has been selling a variety of plant seeds at a busy intersection in Bryanston. The plant seeds, which can be bought for R5, come with instructions including what you bought, when is the best time to plant them, and how to go about planting them.
To supplement this small stream of income, he hands out cards with the words: “My name is Fani Ketso. I’m available for painting, gardening and mowing the lawn in Randburg, Bryanston, Rivonia and Fourways.”
Ketso said it was “still a struggle” doing this as he only makes R200 a day on a good day.
“On average, I make R70 or R80 a day. It happens a lot,” he said.
His struggle is shared by many other roadside entrepreneurs in Johannesburg, including Sipho Manias, who originally comes from Maputo, Mozambique.
Manias worked at a nursery in Komatipoort near the Mozambican border until a man promised him work in Johannesburg. He worked for the building company as a plasterer until it closed.
“I had to make a plan for myself,” he said.
That plan saw him fall back on what he knew best – planting and nurturing a variety of plants.
He now sits at the corner of Lombardy Road and Pine Avenue in Broadacres, north of Johannesburg, where he has set up a roadside nursery.
“I know plants. My father taught me. So I know the plants, I know the flowers and what they need,” he said.
Although he was able to set up a roadside nursery and get support from community members who buy his plants, he said it was still a struggle making ends meet.
“It is tough. Sometimes people won’t buy for three weeks. I can’t buy food, I can’t pay rent. Life is hard,” he said.
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