Young entrepreneur using her hands and feet to succeed

Philani Mzila

For years, washing blankets using your hands and feet was a method used by the majority of South African households.

This ended when washing machines became widely available, and the old age tradition steadily faded away as more and more households could afford them.

Smangele Ngema, a 26-year-old from Tembisa in the East of Johannesburg, has turned back time and is now using this method to make money with her blanket washing business.

The Ekurhuleni West College graduate took the initiative to start the business after struggling to find a job which she had studied for.

She completed her internship in Tembisa Hospital in 2018, but that had led nowhere.

Speaking to Scrolla.Africa, Smangele said that she started her business because no cash injection was required to get it up and running. All it required, she said, were her two hands and feet.

“My grandmother is the person who made me realise that starting a washing blankets business will make me money and stop asking for it from her. 

“I knew that it was going to be possible, since most families or people are too lazy to wash their blankets, especially in the townships,” joked Ngema.

She said that the blankets washing business came into her mind after she realised that she was the only person at home who actually enjoyed the process of washing them.

At first, she got support from friends and relatives and before she knew it, scores of customers seeked her unique services.

She gets most of her clients through word of mouth

Ngema charges R90 per blanket and R140 for two blankets, and she finds that most people don’t mind paying because they find washing blankets such a chore.

“People have been very critical of my prices telling me that I must raise them because I use my own washing powder. For now I’m not worried about how much I’m making,  my aim is to get more clients before I start worrying about money,” she said.

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