Hamdi’s journey at SASA

Stitching Dreams: Hamdi’s Path to Entrepreneurship in South Africa

Untitled design (8)

Over the last 30 years, hundreds of thousands of people have fled Somalia due to political instability and a dangerous civil war that broke out in the 1990s. A young Hamdi was one of these people. She was forced to flee her home and came to South Africa before she was able to finish school. Although she had to leave many things behind – including her family – her dreams remained with her. One such dream was to be a business owner, and The Somali Association of South Africa (SASA) helped Hamdi along her path towards starting her tailoring business.


For many people and for many reasons, arriving in a new country is daunting, especially if you are alone. Bellville has been described as a safe haven for Somalis living in South Africa. It is here that you will find Hamdi.

Hamdi reflects that it took “hard work” to get to where she is today. When she first started working in South Africa, she would buy and sell products in the informal settlements. “It was very difficult. People want to fight you or kill you. So I needed to think of another way to start my own business.”

Living in Bellville – where SASA’s Cape Town offices are – Hamdi heard about SASA and the services that they offer.

Starting a business

At SASA, Hamdi started the baking and sewing courses but made the decision to focus on sewing. These courses offered by SASA inspired Hamdi! They were her foot in the door. “I wanted to have a big business, but it doesn’t take one week or one month. You have to work hard.” In her own time Hamdi would watch videos on YouTube to learn different techniques, and soon attended her second sewing course. “I can sew anything I want now!”

After finding herself a sewing machine, Hamdi opened her shop. This was seven days before the country went into lockdown – she was forced to close. “I told myself “Hamdi, keep going!” But as soon as things started opening up again, Hamdi was back to business.

The present

Hamdi’s shop sits underneath the SASA offices. She has slowly built up a customer base and although “the business is quiet, my life is better.” Hamdi encourages people that she meets to join the courses offered by SASA and even has some of the women doing the course coming to her shop for tips, techniques, and extra practice. The sewing course at SASA played an important role in Hamdi moving her life in the direction that she dreamed of. She plans to continue growing her business. “I want to have a big business focusing on fashion”.

Reflecting back on her early days in Cape Town up to the present day, Hamdi says “Life was difficult, but I am working now, and I have children and a husband – my heart is feeling well.” – Olivia Terblanche

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *