Bulelwa Dunywa-Maponya started her women-owned, independent pharmacy practice because she had a passion to provide access to excellent healthcare services. She demonstrated her commitment to her profession, by not just serving private clients with medical aid or cash, but also by being a collection point for patients who need chronic medicines
that are freely provided by government.
Ms Maponya describes Sunday, the 11th of July as ‘a beautiful day’. She knew that July is usually a busy month in her industry as the seasonal change results in more patients who need flu and sinus medication. In fact, she was so determined to meet the high demand that she transferred all of her personal funds into the business account in order to buy more stock.
But by Monday 12 July, the staff could not gain access into the pharmacy because the shopping centre was closed due to the national unrest. With each passing day her emotions ran high and she worried about the looted medicines in the hands of wrong people. She worried about patients who needed their chronic medication, she worried about her staff and pharmacy liabilities and debits – she had literally put her last cent into the business only for it to be looted and vandalised days later.
When Bulelwa could eventually gain access to the store and see the damage, she felt ‘cold from head to toe’. When she went to the Dawn Park Police station to open a case, she was met with efficient and compassionate officers, who helped her write a coherent statement, as she was still in a state of shock.
Bulelwa was determined to get her pharmacy re-opened, and was encouraged by the acts of kindness from peers, service providers and patients. She was loaned a till register by a fellow colleague and one of her customers gifted her and her staff with a kettle so that they could make a cup of tea to keep warm during the winter month. One of her biggest frustrations was that without her computers, she was no longer able to simply type in a patient’s surname and greet them by name when assisting them. Her supportive family knew that she prided herself on being a professional and ethical entrepreneur so they gave her a loan to partially restore IT systems. This enabled Dawn Park Pharmacy to serve the community and most importantly to generate revenue and prevent total business closure.
Slowly, Bulelwa regained her confidence after seeing a TV message about government’s interventions; and it was during her online search that she came across the IDC. She says, immediately 3 people responded and, she was advised to provide a proposal that she spent the whole of Saturday the 14th of August putting together. Finally, after 20 days, she was able to start operating at 50% capacity and by September all her funding from the IDC had come through. This funding enabled her to buy stock, electrical appliances and pay for operating expenses. Her 4-year-old practice was back in business. Bulelwa describes the consultant from the IDC as ‘a sister from another mother’. Bulelwa says the IDC’s willingness to listen and act swiftly meant that she could still maintain her integrity as a healthcare practitioner and be open for business in order to be of service to her community.