At the age of 44, I decided to follow my mother’s footsteps at selling fruit and vegetables at the Durban Fresh Produce Market. I was nervous and had mixed emotions at this new challenge but grabbed onto this opportunity and have never looked back. I was fortunate enough to have my mother-in-law who lived with us to take care of our 3 teenaged children, and the full support of my husband who later joined me when he retired. It was becoming tough to live off the salary of my husband who was a Municipal clerk. This decision was truly life changing as I would not have been this independent woman that I am today.
The idea of the market was inspired by my mum who had stalls there for more than 40 years. I started off with 1 stall and I now run 11 stalls.
It was not all smooth sailing. Initially, I ran at a loss for the first few months and I quickly learnt the ropes of the business. My days are very long and I only have a break to rest on a Sunday when the market is closed. My day starts at 3am everyday and ends at 3 pm from Monday to Thursday. On Fridays, we finish at 6pm and Saturdays at 2pm. I make use of public transport catching the bus initially and then making use of the taxi a few years later. I have employed 5 staff to help out and they have been with me for many years. Going to the market has helped my family financially with all three of my children being tertiary educated, getting two of them married and with some traveling abroad for myself.
I have suffered the loss of my husband eight years ago and had 3 major operations during this period (I am recovering from another at the moment). This never stopped me going back to the market and continuing with my business.
Personally, i have learnt a lot from my years in the market. I got to meet Farmers who are now like family to me and built up a customer base who will only purchase their produce only from me. During the festive period, I hand out small gifts as a “thank you” to these loyal customers and just to see them smile makes me happy within.
My advice to woman of any age is to start their own business, no matter how small it is.