IY entrepreneur creating opportunities for youth

Yamkela Nomnganga from Imizamo Yethu has started a business to help unemployed youth in her community.

An Imizamo Yethu woman wants to use her hair business to help her community’s unemployed youth.

Yamkela Nomnganga, 25, the president of the Rotaract Club of Hout Bay, started her own hair-accessory brand, Lotus Hairya, during lockdown.

“Many families have found themselves in an indescribable situation as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The situation, particularly among youth, was already dire, and the pandemic exacerbated it,” she says.

The business specialises in satin and silk products and was founded, she says, on the principle of providing employment for young people without a formal education.

Ms Nomnganga moved to Cape Town from the Eastern Cape in 2009 and attended Sentinel Primary School in Hangberg from Grade 7 to Grade 9. She matriculated from Wittebome High School and is now studying for Master Applied Sciences in Chemistry qualification at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT).

She has been a charter member of Rotaract Club of Hout Bay since 2016 and oversees a collaborative tutoring programme, the Game Changer Program, supported by Thatha iThuba, Rotaract Club of Hout Bay and the Maths Clinic which is based at Silikamva High School and helps pupils in Grades 8 to 12 improve their maths.

The Rotaract Club of Hout Bay focuses on career and personal development for Grade 11 and 12 pupils through a mentorship programme, and from 2017 to 2021, Ms Nomnganga mentored six young women.

“At least five of these girls are currently pursuing careers in health sciences, business, or education, with one taking a gap year,” she says.

She came up with the idea for her business after seeing young people who had not completed school hanging about on the streets.

“They are simply sitting in the community and doing nothing, and I’m concerned about what will happen in five years when they have no new skills or jobs.”

She relied on her chemistry background and love for hair to start the business.

“I hope to eventually create and manufacture my own hair products such as shampoo, oils, and moisturisers in future.

“I believe that the success of my business will benefit not only me, but also the people who will be involved. In my business, I’m more concerned with making an impact than with making sales.”

Her vision is to have a space with a small coffee shop and free wi-fi.

“The reality is that life will never be the same again,” she says. “A disruptive change has occurred, and the best course of action is to accept it and work toward adapting and creating new opportunities for us. I want to inspire other women to embrace their potential and maximise their capabilities.”

Call 078 858 8763 or email nomngangay@gmail.com for more information.

Yamkela Nomnganga with two of her mentees, Praise Chindima and Melody Legwale.