Colvin’s salon helps women move ahead

Karen Hermanus, 22, from Hanover Park, puts the finishing touches to Rocklands resident Fatima Londt's hair.

While Westgate resident Colvin Snell may not have a hair on his head, as long as there is hair in the world, he can teach the art of hairstyling and give back to the community.

Mr Snell is one of 20 South Africans who have landed the opportunity of a lifetime in the Vodacom Change the World (VCtW) programme which gives volunteers the chance to work for a non-profit organisation for a year while Vodacom pays their salaries.

Maya Makanjee, chief officer of corporate affairs at Vodacom, said the quality of candidates showed there were many South African professionals yearning to invest their skills to transform local NPOs.

“”VCtW was set up … for professionals to utilise their skills to reach-out to NPOs in order to turn them around so they can be sustainable and impactful,” she said.

Mr Snell is contracted by Vodacom to teach 21 women how to work at or run a hair salon, beauty salon and barber shop, mentoring them along the way and helping them reach their full potential.

He is project manager of Elohim Outreach International, an NPO based in Strandfontein, and he saw off competition from more than 5 000 applicants to achieve his dream of being able to help change the lives of others.

“I have a passion for helping people,” he said.

An arm of Elohim is My African Dream, which creates job opportunities for youth at risk. Mr Snell and his hairdresser wife, Colleen, have pulled in professionals and trained 450 people to do people’s hair.

He worked in a bank for 21 years before starting work with Elohim about a decade ago, but he has worked in the community since he was 17. “I was raised with the ethos of ‘being there for someone else,’”he said.

Now with Vodacom’s financial clout behind him, Mr Snell will be able to give training and ongoing mentorship to 21 women, helping them get their own businesses off the ground. The 20-day accredited course he runs includes theory and practical experience; followed by a leadership, life and business skills boot camp in Melkbosstrand; and mentoring to support them in keeping their business running. Each of the women will be given a starter kit to kick-start their business almost immediately and with the skills maintain an income ahead of the festive season.

Bonita Wood, 58, from Westridge, one of the 21 women said: “I’ve had this thing for hair, since I was 16, and when I saw the advertisement I jumped at the chance to be skilled.”

Ms Wood is also the chairperson of Westridge Neighbourhood Watch, with the passion to help the community.

She said with a salon she could lift the spirits of her clients.

She already does people’s hair in the community and already has a bank account while completing the course.

“I want to open a community hair salon, at an affordable price. I want to make residents feel good about themselves,” she said.

Waafiqah Felix, 22, from Grassy Park, said the class was quite strange in the beginning but a few days into it, classmates had spoken to each other and grown into a family.

“They have opened our minds so much that we can do anything with our lives,” she said.

Ms Felix, who quit her job as a sales consultant, took a leap of faith believing there was something better suited for her to do.

She said her grandmother was a hairdresser and that somehow her talent is genetic and with the skills learned she will be a hit with hair.