Amiena Pastor

I Deserve IT NPC

What does your company do?

I Deserve It is a dynamic social enterprise dedicated to empowering individuals and communities through transformative skills development initiatives. Our commitment extends to creating a positive and lasting impact at the local, national, and global levels. Organizational Pillars Skills Development Life Coaching Mentorship Access to Trade platforms Community Impact Projects I Deserve It embarked on its journey in 2010, driven by the goal of empowering small and micro home-based businesses. Our initial mission was to provide them with a trading platform, but as time passed, it became evident that entrepreneurs and the community required more comprehensive support and a thirst for skill development. The organization was formally registered in August 2012, when we realized we can make bigger impact as a Non-Profit Company. The platforms we were setting for home-based businesses led to us identifying the lack of formal skills. Most of the traders had informal, inherited micro business, which was a means of survival. Being a qualified fashion designer, I knew I would be able to transfer my skills to those selling clothing, who would be interested in knowing more about their trade. This had a turn of events, when more people found out about the sewing classes, it spread into the community, and we taught almost 50 ladies per year. In 2013, I shared what we were doing with a podiatrist, and he offered to teach ladies from underprivileged communities how to work with diabetic, aged and people with foot care. He explained that there was a gap in the market, and this will not only empower ladies with skills and micro business but be a great community service. After the course, we received an opportunity to open inside a pharmacy to provide foot care services to the community, and we are still active today. COVID 19, was a massive turning point for the organization, almost closing down as we were self-sustainable, we received a few amazing opportunities to "ride the wave" and stay active, during a world crisis. In this time, we had many requests for skills development as so many lost their jobs and needed to trade something to survive through this period. Informal businesses could not trade and needed to register formal business, to apply for a permit to trade. We kept on empowering ourselves, to assist others to survive. We learnt how to register businesses, how to apply for permits, and create e commerce stores so people could sell their products. As things became more relaxed, we added two more skills to our portfolio: body product formulation, as gifting became a big business during the pandemic, and, almost at the end of the pandemic, we added hair care. Fast forward to 2024, we have added Coding and woodwork to our portfolio. Our participants are aged 18-55, but we welcome and support everyone who wants to empower themselves. We completely rely on funding for our organization and currently host 60 candidates for skills development, with the desire to expand projects in the future. This evolution led to a profound transformation within I Deserve It. Today, we are prioritizing sustainable community development by nurturing artisanal, tech, and life skills to foster entrepreneurship.

What is your biggest success?

There have been many highlights during this time. Due to the organization I am constantly empowering myself to be able to empower others. 2013 became a life coach with the Academy of Life Coaching, and 2017 small business mentor with AASHA Investments and WECBOF. Because of I Deserve It, I received an opportunity to attend the Indonesian Trade Fare in 2016, the trip included an entrepreneurial visit to Malaysia and Singapore. 2018 won the International Visitors Leadership award with the American Embassy Cape Town. 2020 I received an opportunity to do Post Graduate Diploma in Management Practice at UCT GSB via RPL which assisted me to run the organization. 2024 Masters of Philosophy in Inclusive Innovation student at UCT GSB, thesis ENTREPRENEURIAL MINDSETS. Advice from my supervisor, Phumlani Nkontwana, 'become an expert in what you know'

What has been your biggest hurdle?

There have been many hurdles, I am a fashion designer, this organization was founded by accident. Going through a traumatic experience, something else developed, now known as I Deserve It, NPC. For many years I pushed the organization away, as I did not believe, that someone like me, a colored girl from a previously disadvantaged community, who got to attend one of the best fashion schools by luck, could have founded an organization. 2012- 2016, I only did events, funds raised was put back into community via charity drives, from feeding schemes to clothing drives. I did not imagine the organization to become something so important to community development. After the opportunity to Indonesia, I started shifting my focus to the organization, and all the challenges surfaced, one being compliance. No one teaches you to run a non-profit, and no one tells you it should be run as a business. It seemed when I focused on the organization, nothing went right, people disappointment, support became less when you struggle, journey felt lonely and difficult. Many days of giving up and the same breath, self-motivation. Believing in the vision was a challenge for me, as it felt too difficult. Now that I believe in the Vision and Mision, getting others to believe. Funding is always a challenge, always worried about tomorrow, can you afford staff, rent, resources. Pitching to donors, having to convince people the country is in a crisis, and you have part of the solution. Donors looking for accreditation for skills you offer, for jobs that do not exists. No one believes entrepreneurship is the solution for low-income nations, even survivalist entrepreneurs is a thing, let's move people, our country cannot afford to have people based at zero.   Convincing donors, hand up is better than hand out, as noble as it hands out seems, it's not serving anyone, we are creating dependency, and the need will outweigh the resources eventually. Hurdles with students: shifting mindsets is a long journey, but we have to start, the best time is the present. In South Africa, people were not taught to be liberated, so when they receive an opportunity, they don't know how to see it through and execute it. We constantly evolving as we see the need to overcome this, it's the only way we see our communities shifting.