Johana’s Story

Mrs. Johanna Choene Maimele is a business woman, a SEF client, a mother to many, grandmother and best Larger Loans Program (LLP) client for 2018! We had an opportunity to catch up with her to hear where she started, how she manages all her responsibilities and to get some inspiration.

Here is what we got to talk about during our time with her:

1. How and where did you hear about SEF?

My home was among those that were visited during a house to house marketing of SEF by the then Development Facilitator in 1998, his name was Phillip and I forgot his surname. After his visit the women from around my neighbourhood gathered to talk about what we had been informed about. After a long discussion of many questions and doubts, a couple of women decided to form groups and join SEF and I was one of them. I joined in 1998 and took a break when I got a job at the University of Limpopo. I re-joined again in 2000, I have been a proud SEF client for 19 years now and going forward; I want to be one of the first clients to get a R200 000 loan from SEF.

2. What motivated you to start your business?

I was unemployed and my husband was not earning enough to take care of the family, so I decided to assist my husband by selling fruits at the University of Limpopo in 1999. During my time there, I came to learn that there is a high demand for rental rooms. A lot of students would always ask me if I know of a place they can rent a room that is close to the university. That was a perfect opportunity for me; I had the space, the close proximity to the university advantage, but I did not have the funds. Fortunately my husband retired and we used his money together with the SEF loan and started the rental business instead of building a house. We started the business with six rooms that was in 2004 and managed to build up to 54 rooms to date.

3. Are there any challenges that you are facing in your business?

I cater mainly for students; the biggest challenge is having to guide and care for them as my own children, which is not an easy job. I would say I adopted 54 children in my home.

4. What are your New Year’s resolutions for your business?

I am in the process of renovating the rooms; I repainted the rooms in December 2018 and this year I will be laying floor tiles and installing the ceilings.

I also want to diversify my business; I am interested in a chicken business, through the Client Business Community (CBC) meetings. I have learnt about the business and got assistance from other SEF clients who are in the business, as to how I can start it, and where I can get the different suppliers. I am looking forward to it.

5. How did you find out about the Larger Loan Program (LLP)?

I had taken loans of R15000 several times until I received a call from a SEF staff member, Percy Molele requesting a meeting with me. I agreed to meet with him and he explained the program and its requirements and I was immediately sold, I was interested and excited. I submitted all the required documents and I got my first individual loan disbursement in June 2014.

6. What do you like the most about the LLP?

You are in total control of your payments and savings; you are entirely liable and responsible for your loan. We get together with other business women from all over the province who motivate me to grow in business at the CBC meetings. We get to network, get information about different business ideas and form meaningful friendships.

7. How did it feel to receive the best LLP client of 2018 Award?

Out of many business women, I was among the selected few. It was great to be recognized and honoured by SEF. I am proud of myself and it is proof that hard work, commitment and love for what you do, truly pays. I also got the best secretary for 2018; I am still part of the centre leadership in the general program. I do not doubt that I am valued. It is a great motivation to continue working hard and growing in business.

8. What advice would you give to the other business women for the year 2019?

My advice to other business women is that they should by all means avoid using SEF loans for personal use, buying expensive clothes and groceries. They should rather focus on using the SEF loans to invest in their business, so that they can generate more money that will enable them to buy everything they wish to have. The best part about investing in business is that you get to buy most of the things you want cash and not on credit.

Like Johana, many of our clients are skilled entrepreneurs just lacking the capital to get started. A little credit goes a long way towards helping these women reach their full potential.

Are you as passionate as we are about micro-enterprise development? We're always looking to grow our team.