Indalo founder and the cost of COVID-19


While claiming the lives of thousands of people in South Africa, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc with the livelihoods of many more.


A case in point is Indalo Nubian Naturals founder, Smangele Sibisi, reports SAnews.gov.za. A few months ago, the natural hair salon was a thriving business with both its Johannesburg and Pretoria branches doing well.


As South Africa recorded its first case of COVID-19 on 5 March, life for this business was about to be turned on its head. Soon afterwards, Government announced the implementation of a stringent lockdown to curb the spread of the virus.


While no price can be placed on saving lives, many businesses like Indalo have taken a beating over the course of the lockdown.


“We didn’t have any income since 25 March. You can imagine surviving three months without any income. As much as we were put on hold, our expenses were not put on hold,” said Sibisi.


As a result of no income over the course of the last several months, Sibisi was forced to let go of a total 29 hairstylists at her two salons. This as expenses, including the payment of suppliers, snowballed.


The young businesswoman will not forget the day she released a press statement on 19 June announcing the closure of the salons she built from nothing.


“I cried the whole day at the thought that we were closing down,” said Sibisi, who opened her first salon in Johannesburg in 2016.


The 29-year-old was also heartbroken by text messages from stylists informing her of their imminent evictions from their homes. She also found herself having to move out of her apartment and forced to yield her car to the bank. Her once-booming business, generating anything between R240,000 and R300,000, found itself penniless.


In true South African fashion, Sibisi’s clients have cheered her on, encouraging her not to give up on her business.


“I wasn’t aware of the army behind me. If I could thank them all individually, I would. One of my clients even called me and prayed with me,” she commented.


Today, Sibisi is raising capital for her business through crowdfunding with the trust of resurrecting the Johannesburg branch and is confident that she will bounce back.


“All I know is that people are rooting for us and we’re now looking at the house call system.”


Recently, Government announced further easing of lockdown regulations with hair salons now allowed to trade, under strict conditions.


Currently, the Pretoria branch is operating on skeleton staff as a way of ensuring social distancing, and about 70% of staff will not receive a salary again this month.


It has been a rollercoaster ride for the award-winning hairdresser, who has styled big names in the entertainment industry, like Claire Mawisa, Rami Chuene, Renate Stuurman, Zenande Mfenyane and Sindi Dlathu.


Sibisi accepts that it will take a long time for her business to get it back on its feet. (Source: SAnews.gov.za)

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