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It’s literally from rags to riches for young Mantfombi as fabric recycling gave her startup capital for a flourishing business

“Like many other young people in my area, I could not find a job after graduating. I could not even start a business as I had no startup capital,” stated 25-year-old Mantfombi Dlamini narrating how her life was before being part of the Vukani Bomake project.

Mantfombi hails from Ezulwini in the Hhohho region. She is among the youth honing their fashion and fabrics skills under the Vukani Bomake project.

“Vukani Bomake transformed my life. I supply my neighbours with chickens now, that’s a project I started with the money I got from selling our products at Vukani Bomake. I have also started selling pork to add variety for my customers,” Dlamini said happily.

The Vukani Bomake project provides business mentorship for women to run successful mini factories in their communities. As an aspiring fashion designer, Mantfombi described the project as a way of gaining industry insights and a motivation to the community women.

“I am glad to be part of this project. We learn a lot of business skills like quality control, meeting market demands and most importantly working together to improve each other’s skills. Many young people can benefit from being part of Vukani Bomake,” the enthusiastic Mantfombi narrated.

“You can start a business with the little you have."

Poverty usually drives girls to risky behaviors like having sugar daddies but Mantfombi made a better choice; she joined Vukani Bomake.

“My dream of becoming a business woman seems realistic now. The gains made under Vukani Bomake helped me to start a small scale chicken rearing business back home. I’m also growing that business now as I have started selling pork. With these incomes streams, I am gradually becoming an independent woman, as I no longer rely on anyone for basic needs,” the aspiring business woman narrated.

Being part of the project does not only help Mantfombi grow her business skills. She believes their work also adds value to the country’s drive towards attaining the Sustainable Development goals on environmental care.

“The material we use for making the masks and bags could be disposed somewhere and cause harm to the environment. Turning them into these useful products both saves the environment and brings us income.”

Dlamini, who believe International Women’s Day celebrates the hard work of women, could not miss the opportunity to share her message for the day.

“I would like to encourage women, especially young women like myself, to stand up and take opportunities around us. Our communities have older women who can help shape our future, let us get closer to them and learn skills we can turn into income generating activities,” she said.

“Being called the future is not enough. As young people, we need to take action by putting our brains and efforts together in projects that will ensure that the future is better and brighter.”

Eswatini’s population is relatively youthful as young people make about 70 percent of the population. However, lack of employment and funding for entrepreneurship, makes it difficult for these young people to actively participate in economic activities. UNFPA Eswatini works with a number of partners to bring programmes for nurturing youth to fulfill their potential.

Recently, UNPFA supported the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs in launching the National Youth Policy of 2020, and drafting the Youth Bill, which are key instruments for guiding efforts for sustainable youth development in the country. The inclusion of youth mentorship in the Vukani Bomake project also supports the goal of developing young Emaswati. As a result, Dlamini encouraged young people to come together to tackle the challenges they face.