AN enterprising Limpopo businesswoman is making waves in the bed manufacturing business which was previously seen as the domain of big business. Dowelani Edith Netshifhefhe-Manyama from Ha-Makhuvha village owns Dowelani Vhuawelo Manufactures (Pty) Ltd, which is based in Dobsonville Extension three, Soweto.
The company manufactures furniture beds, couches as well as other items. These are then sent to her store in Limpopo where she has established a strong client base. “Like any other disadvantaged woman, I had no opportunity to go to university after I matriculated hence I acquired skills to manufacture mattresses. I was employed at a bed-making company for two years and that’s where I acquired my skill. I registered my company in 2014,” she said.
Netshifhefhe-Manyama said when she started the company her main purpose was to manufacture base and mattress, but the needs of customers led her to explore and manufacture a complete bedroom set using various designs. “To be honest, I never dreamt of being a bed manufacturer, I wanted to be a nurse. But I started enjoying making beds when working in that company to raise funds for my nursing course,” she said.
“Clients were the ones who instilled more courage to do it because I was getting praises from everybody I sold my products to. But for me, it was my only means of survival.” The businesswoman said starting the business was never without challenges especially when it comes to procurement of material.
She dreams of going fully industrial in the next five years, where she will have a warehouse that provides complete bedroom solutions. She wants to see her business supplying beds to retailers, the hospitality industry, institutions of higher learning and other businesses. “I will be happy if the business can get financial injection so that it can grow and employ more people. If you do not have enough capital to buy your own machines and raw materials it becomes expensive to manufacture a mattress while hiring someone’s machine,” she said.
She employs four people, including her son at her furniture shop in Venda. She wishes to employ about 30 more people in the future.
“There is no small business idea. If you dream it, stand up and work to realise it,” she said. She also plans that in the future, she wants to partner with EFT colleges to offer in-service training to upholstery students.
David Livhusha who taught her the furniture manufacturing skill and also acted as her mentor is always happy to see her growing as a businesswoman. “When I saw her the first day she wanted to come to buy a bed and I decided that she manufacture one under my instruction. She agreed I started training her. She was brilliant and understood my instruction faster than men she was working with at the factory,” said Livhusha. Much as she sends the furniture to her store in Venda, there are some customers who buy their items direct from her factory in Soweto.
One of her loyal customers is well-known actor Jerry Mofokeng who also commended her good job. “When God gives a person a gift or talent he does not consider the gender of the person. She told me that she was an assistant to a person who used to manufacture beds and now look where she is.”