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Brenda

Why Phakamani?

There are two reasons why I support Phakamani Foundation (pronounced 'pug-ah-ma-nee'). One is practical and the other is personal.

The practical side is that I personally know the founders of the organisation, Mark and Shirley Tucker. The Tuckers and my husband knew each other back in South Africa, many years before I met them in Canada. Mark is an entrepreneur and an owner of multiple Great Clips franchises in the Greater Vancouver area and Alberta. Mark and Shirley wanted to make a difference and give back to South Africa, and so they returned and founded Phakamani Foundation.

Phakamani is a micro-lending organisation that addresses poverty and chronic unemployment in rural South Africa. It helps poor women to start their own businesses, create their own livelihoods and provide for their families. Phakamani provides training, financing and on-going support to help these new female entrepreneurs thrive.

On a personal level, I chose to support Phakamani Foundation through my business when I experienced firsthand that people who don't have a lot of money don't have the privilege of options. In 2014, my mother became ill with a treatable skin cancer, but she did not have private medical aid. South Africa is a two-tier medical system and private medical aid is very expensive. If you can't afford it, then you have to rely on the government's medical system.

My mother had made use of the public health care system twice before for cancer and they had been good experiences. However, her third experience was not good and what was originally a treatable skin cancer imploded into an aggressive leukaemia. My mother died quickly and unexpectedly. The stories I heard later of my mother's experience, and my own four-day experience at the Jo'burg Gen while Mom died, opened my eyes to the reality of what people who can't afford choices have to tolerate. Not just in limited health care options and a government health care system that is itself imploding, but I saw how they are treated as less worthy and dispensable and so are mistreated. It broke me and I wanted to make a difference.

I wanted to help poorer people have options and Phakamani Foundation more than fitted the bill. As a female entrepreneur, I am motivated to help other women pursue their dreams, start their own businesses and be supported so that they can succeed and grow. And in doing that, we are giving them the wealth of options, of choice, and of dignity.

Watch this 13 minute video to learn more about Phakamani Foundation.