Change is in your pocket

The Big Issue is a socially responsible non-profit organisation that enables willing unemployed and marginalised adults to take responsibility for their own lives through a developmental employment programme.
PITCH:  Civic center Cape Town
AGE:  62

SHOOTING FROM THE HIP

Waking up every morning to sell the magazine gives my life meaning, and that’s when I make most of my sales.

Michael’s new lease on life

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Words and photography: Yonga Balfour

When Michael van der Walt started selling The Big Issue last year, it was love at first sell. The 62-year-old relocated from Soshanguve near Pretoria early last year and now lives in a shelter for the homeless in District Six (Zonnebloem).

Although he has been selling the magazine for only a few months, Michael says it feels like he has been selling The Big Issue forever. That’s because he enjoys every moment on his pitch near the Civic Centre in Cape Town.

I started being a Big Issue entrepreneur in mid-December 2017 and I’m loving it. In this short space of time, I have managed to build a good relationship with my customers and they are very nice people. They like the light reads in the magazine and enjoy finding out about adventure, animals and global warming,” he says.

 

All Roads Lead to The Big Issue

Michael is an early bird and enjoys working with people. Before moving to Cape Town, he was employed in the hospitality business in Gauteng.

I have years of experience as a B&B manager but used to visit Cape Town now and then, and fell in love with this city. I love the people, beaches and everything about this place.

When I moved here, I was employed as a flagman for the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), but when my contract ended, I joined The Big Issue.

Waking up every morning to sell the magazine gives my life meaning, and that’s when I make most of my sales.

Sometimes my customers will stop just to give me a tip or check up on me. It gives me joy knowing every morning I get to make people happy by selling them a magazine they enjoy reading.”

 

 Give Michael a Hand

When he is not at his pitch, Michael likes to stay home and play chess with his friends or go to the beach. He would welcome any opportunity to leave the homeless shelter and work as a live-in caretaker. If you are able to assist him, please contact The Big Issue on 021 461 6690.

 

 We Need Your Help

The Big Issue appeals to all public space and shopping mall owners, managers, and operators in the greater Cape Metro area to allow our vendors to sell magazines at their sites. It can be hazardous and physically exhausting to sell the magazine at traffic light intersections, especially during winter. We would like to see more vendors selling the magazine in a safer environment. Email md@bigissue.org.za to become involved.

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