Antonio's Story: A Blessing Without Measure
After 10 years of working for the same company, Antonio decided it was time to make a change. Antonio first arrived in Johannesburg as a refugee during a time of civil war in his home country. As a foreigner, he felt he had disadvantages in South Africa, and providing for his wife and three children became a challenge. He often worried that there would not be enough money for food and transportation.
“I could barely pay for my own expenses,” said Antonio. “The way I was living was not good at all.”
For years, Antonio dreamed of starting his own business, but his own doubts and inhibitions kept him from pursuing the idea. However, after attending a Self-Employment Workshop that was organized by his ward employment specialist, everything would change. The workshop, specially designed for individuals looking to start a business, inspired Antonio to put his idea into action.
“One of the things I learned from the workshop is to go forward with the idea, to do what you have in mind and what you pray for,” he said.
At the workshop, Antonio was also coached on how to present his business idea through writing and speaking to company owners in a professional manner. The employment specialist followed up with Antonio to make sure he was taking the necessary steps to accomplish his goal.
“I never went to school for business, but the Self-Employment Workshop gave me some background,” he said. “After attending the workshop, I was ready.”
The company that Antonio worked for sold bags that were supplied from China; however, sometimes the supply became so low that there were no bags to sell. Antonio saw an immediate need. Because Antonio was skilled at sewing and had studied fashion designing, he knew he could create a business to supply his company with the bags they needed. Antonio wrote a letter to the company explaining his idea, and fasted and prayed that the company would accept it.
He gave the letter to his director, and it was passed up the corporate ladder. Eventually, Antonio was called in to a special meeting to present his idea to the owners of the company.
“The workshop gave me courage to confront and speak to big people like CEOs and directors,” he said. “You don’t need to be afraid; just put your idea forward, and see the result!”
After many meetings and decision-making processes, the company gave Antonio a three-month trial period to start his business. If he was successful, they would give him a contract.
“The first month was a little bit scary,” he said. “But again, because I was prepared, I was now ready. I didn’t have any doubt and I just knew that this thing would work out.”
After Antonio proved that he could manage his own business, the company agreed to make him a permanent supplier. Two years later, Antonio supplies “anything that can be sewn” and is helping the company drastically increase its profits. He is gaining more clients, and his business continues to expand. He now has five employees and six sewing machines to keep up with all of the work.
Since starting his own business, Antonio’s lifestyle has changed tremendously. He has enough money to pay his bills and he is planning to buy a house. He also has the freedom to create his own schedule, giving him more time to spend with his family. Because of his success, Antonio plans to expand his company by opening an office in Johannesburg and launching his own label.
“I am very happy with the Self-Employment Workshop,” he said. “I know it is because of the confidence that I had in the Lord that everything is happening. It is a blessing, a blessing without measure.”