Georgi Kapepula, is the founder and owner of Asandé, known for its “Heavenly jewellery with the purpose to empower Congolese women with an option of a brighter future”. The proceeds of the sales of the jewellery, supports a women’s project called The Mother’s Union, based in Kinshasa, DRC. It teaches female victims of war and sexual violence (with rape as the main weapon of war) how to rebuild their lives through business by providing holistic care, training as well as the fundamentals of micro-enterprise. Therefore, by purchasing a piece of jewellery the buyer is not only recognising a woman’s courageous journey but also empowering her to rebuild her life through business.
The highlight during the Lockdown period, for Georgi, was being able to host a raffle of a piece of their jewellery. Through this raffle, they were able to raise in excess of R52 000 in a matter of weeks! This money was used for the neediest communities in Cape Town, by making up food and baby care parcels which were distributed to Dunoon, Langa & Gugulethu. They then started a soup kitchen in Kensington which is expected to continue to serve the community post Lockdown.
There was however a lowlight to Lockdown for the young entrepreneur. In addition to the regular things that most other people encountered, Georgi was faced with the diagnosis of thyroid cancer, and as a result, started her personal quarantine, 3 weeks earlier, after having had a full thyroidectomy mid-march.
Early May, further tissue needed to be tested and again diagnosed as cancerous. Between quarantining and trying to grow their business Asande, and helping the needy, Georgi and her husband spent much time visiting the hospital for tests, scans and injections. During this time, friends and family were amazing and reached out in as many ways as lockdown would allow, causing them to feel covered by love, even though so far apart.
Lockdown allowed for time to prep wonderful, interesting and delicious raw meals, Georgi says. “Had it not been for Lockdown, I may just have grabbed a bag of carrots for the day, as a result of the hectic lifestyle we had been caught up in, but I’ve been able to start a plant based, raw juicing diet to help speed up my recovery from cancer”.
With the progression of Lockdown, and knowing it wasn’t ending any time soon, meant you had to adjust your expectations and embrace the present Georgi said, adding that she is now actually loving the new norm of her simple, slow pace of life! She has found that family and friends are the most important things in life and that it’s nice not to be too busy! Believing that it’s the basics really are the best, and that people can be extremely generous, even in times of trial.
Georgi believes social media to potentially be a powerful tool. The fundraising initiative having been hosted through their instagram and facebook pages were considered a resounding success. Her experience is that when using social media to help others the platform can be powerful and tremendously positive!
Asked whether Georgi had felt isolated, she responded by saying that her husband and puppy had kept her busy! However, she admitted it had been nice to just be fully present with them and recover, without the added pressure of needing to be up and about and busy.
Asande is usually focused on helping communities in the DR Congo, and …. “Whilst we continue to do that, we were profoundly confronted with the needs in our own backyard, in places like Dunoon where we knew people were struggling to feed their families, and not able to keep their heads above water, during the difficult time. Our brand hasn’t really been tweaked but instead we have leveraged it to help people here in SA as well. Whilst we can’t make a profit, we may as well create something positive, and feel immensely rewarded by the prospects”.
Georgi’s wrap up is that this has been a time of pause…..time to rest, time to value the simple things in life and the opportunity to practice gratitude.