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:  Paradise Road, Claremont
AGE:  34


What do you like most about yourself?
I’m a go-getter. When I set a goal, I go for it.

If you could change anything about the world, what would that be?
I’d want to see people live better lives and not be on the street.

What’s the best part of your day?
The best part is when I learn something new in my studies, and seeing my family.

Ntobeko Makaula

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Ntobeko Makaula is a man who puts his family first and works hard to provide for his two young children. He’s had a long relationship with The Big Issue – his first spell as a vendor lasted from 2000 to 2005. He returned to the magazine last year to earn while pursuing a course at Boston College in Information Technology. His warm personality and obvious professionalism make him a hit with readers. We talked to him about his life, priorities and goals going forward.

“I’m from Eastern Cape, a place called Mount Frere. I came to Cape Town in 1999 to look for opportunities. A lot of people leave the Eastern Cape.

In 1999, I was doing my matric in Simunye in the Western Cape. It didn’t go so well, but I finished at St Francis in Langa.

I sold The Big Issue from 2000 to 2005. Then I went to a fisheries company. It was hard, I was a general worker. But I was retrenched. I did some work as a security guard after that – that’s where I managed to save money to register at Boston College in Cape Town. I’m doing Information Technology. I have a big desire to further my education.

Customer service is important to me. I try to make some jokes with the customers and, you know, they’re nice people. I think it’s important to be nice to the customers.

Now I manage to provide for my family. I have two children, one is six months old and the other in Grade R. Before I was doing nothing, but then I realised I have to come back to The Big Issue. Now I can buy clothes for my kids. When I’m done with my studies I want to practise what I’m learning now, I want to work as an IT specialist. I like this – it was my dream to sit behind a computer all day long.”

• Anyone interested in making a donation to Ntobeko Makaula’s future may contact Nicky Asher-Pedro, The Big Issue’s social worker, at 021 461 6690 or

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