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How one woman’s dream connected Mitchells Plain to a world of opportunity

Located approximately 28 kilometres from the City of Cape Town is the community of Mitchells Plain. Although notorious for gangsterism and drug abuse, the suburb is also famous for producing renowned icons like former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs, national sprinter Sergio Mullins, and more recently, the founder of Saunders Technical Services (STS), Megan Saunders.

 

Saunders, who now works directly for Vuma as the provider’s reseller, didn’t realise that starting her business in 2020 would provide an income stream for her and her 32-member staff, connecting the community to a new world of digital opportunities.

 

Her ultimate vision is to help more people realise that despite the stigma surrounding low-income neighbourhoods,  internet connectivity offers opportunities for people who wish to make a name for themselves.

 

For example, like Megan Saunders, Jimmy Nevis, now a singer, songwriter, and a Vuma My Community Connects ambassador, grew up in Athlone, less than 20 kilometres from Mitchells Plain. Despite the challenges he faced in his community, he, too, managed to chase his dream of becoming a musician, even going on to open for international stars like Tevin Campbell and Pharrell Williams.

 

“I can relate to Megan’s journey of overcoming the odds without forgetting to embrace where you’re from. Although we grow up in challenging environments, we must continue to have pride in our roots and embrace the communities we come from,” says Nevis. “Megan and I might come from two very different worlds, but we have so much in common, and because of that, I’m confident that we can inspire even more people in similar situations to never give up on their dreams.”

 

Driven by her passion for entrepreneurship, Saunders left her full-time job to launch her new business with just one month’s salary, which she used to cover expenses like petrol and basic office equipment.

“I didn’t have any capital to start the company when I left my job. I went to my husband Craig, and we decided that sacrificing our salaries might be worth it and that we would somehow make provision for our household and three children.”

 

“Thankfully, generosity came through from my family and my former employer, who helped me cover some of my first month’s expenses. Certain members of the community were also instrumental in non-financial assistance and support. People sometimes told me not to make this move because the sacrifice was too great. However, the rewards are equally as great; for example, we’re moving into our new offices this year, and we also have more vehicles, so the sacrifices are paying off,” says Saunders.  

 

Saunders says she’s eternally grateful to several of her employees whom she lovingly refers to as the OG’s. They have been on this journey with her, stayed on during the initial difficult period and remain loyal to this day. In the early days of her business, Saunders recalls transporting a team of as many as 14 guys in a single car, which required opening all the windows, doors, and even the boot to get the team out to work sites. The company now has a 16-seater van and another new bakkie to transport the work teams around the community.

 

She’s incredibly grateful to her father for teaching her about drive and discipline. He taught her she would need to find a way and work for her dream. “I remember working for my dad when I was younger and travelling to the office with him. One day, even though I got a lift from him to work that day too, he gave me a written warning for being late, saying that nothing in life comes easy and I’d have to find a way of overcoming obstacles.”

 

Fibre rollout in Mitchells Plain has improved residents’ quality of life and increased property values – discouraging people from moving out of the community to go to areas that offer better opportunities for their children.

 

Saunders says the most significant benefit of having access to affordable, high-speed fibre internet is that people with disabilities and the elderly no longer need to rely on public transportation to do their shopping; they can shop online and even connect with loved ones remotely.

 

“I’m proud of how affordable, high-speed fibre connectivity has made it possible for Mitchells Plain community members, who previously relied on dialup and mobile data, to access opportunities such as online shopping, gaming, and to discover new online careers,” says Saunders. “Even more importantly, children in the community who don’t have internet access at home can now connect to the internet at school to do homework, which helps them improve their education and access better opportunities after school.”

 

“Megan Saunders is just one example of how an individual can help an entire community access new opportunities and help current and future generations realise their dreams of a better future,” says Lianne Williams, Head of Marketing at Vuma. “We’re extremely proud of everything Megan has achieved, including creating an income for herself and countless other households in her community.” 

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