WHEN a street vendor lost almost her entire livelihood due to burglary and theft, Kanu Commercial Body Construction in Port Elizabeth helped her to get back on her feet - by upgrading her informal "shack-shop" to a fully functional fit-for-purpose kiosk.
Pumla Mtini, 69, had been operating a small spaza shop across the road from Kanu in Markman Township, Port Elizabeth, for several years. She started her shop to supplement her pension income after retiring from a big retailer, where she worked in the bakery.
However, during the years thieves often targeted the pensioner's shop. "They had been stealing from day one. I had to replace stoves, groceries and gas cylinders over the years. But earlier this year, the thieves took the roof off my shop and stole almost everything," said Mtini.
Living up to their company slogan, delivering creative solutions, the staff of Kanu came up with a plan to create a sustainable, secure kiosk from an obsolete truck van body.
"Our employees who are daily customers of Pumla, appealed to Kanu management for assistance," said Kanu General Manager: Manufacturing and Engineering, Wynand Moller.
Since Kanu did not have an on-site canteen service for its employees at the time, assisting Mtini was a mutually beneficial move for the Kanu employees as well as the dedicated and hard-working shop owner.
"Our employees immediately took the project to heart - workshopping ideas and ways to make this work. A lot of love, care, pride and effort was put into this initiative and the result was a functional kiosk, which addresses security and operating safety concerns," said Moller.
Mtini's self-contained kiosk is now inside the premises of Kanu, where the security services can keep a watchful eye over her new shop.
Famous for her delectable vetkoek, the staff at neighbouring businesses are also keen patrons of Mtini.
"Our team assisted Pumla in relocating and went as far as creating a sign to let her customers know she had moved to Kanu's premises on the opposite side of the road. Mtini sells chips, sweets, cigarettes, cooldrinks and other food items throughout the day and is looking at branching out to offer even more lunch items. Kanu also plans to make use of her services for company functions, to offer a local flavour to visiting fleet customers.
With years of experience working in a bakery, Mtini says she enjoys cooking. "On Saturdays I make soup for the children in the area where I live in KwaZakhele. I only wish now that I had started my business sooner and I am so grateful to Kanu for how they have blessed me," said Mtini.