Many people say there is a supportive woman behind every successful man, and you probably know of someone who would testify to that saying. Amelia Groenemeyer (40), from Strandfontein in Cape Town, gave up her job so she could help her husband run their electrical-repairs business.
“He used to work with his father, and when he passed away my husband still wanted to continue with the business. He needed support with the admin and I had to assist with quotes etcetera. The company had started downscaling and I had to make a decision whether to go that route, or stick to my job, which had a guaranteed monthly salary,” she recalls.
However, the help she was willing to provide proved to be stronger than the salary she was getting monthly.
“It was a tough decision but I could see he needed my support and so I gave up my job to assist with the daily running of the business. I saw potential in it and I’m enjoying it, more than ever. So, when I came in we said we’d do things the proper way. The company was still in his father’s name so we first had to register it. Slowly but surely it’s improving.” She adds that they formally registered the company as theirs earlier in 2016.
As much as her job was helping her provide for the family, there are things that money can’t buy.
“I was always busy and didn’t have time, but I get to spend more time with my kids now that I’m an entrepreneur. We are trying to give them the best we can. My husband is also putting something extra in, in order for them to have a better life.”
She has two children, and she is one of seven children, so it comes naturally to Amelia to emphasise keeping in touch with family. “My siblings maintain good communication; we got a good support structure. We created this WhatsApp group where we offer help to each other because we are so close. We do feel we need each other. We pray for each other when someone needs prayer and so forth.”
Love is something that humans don’t outgrow; Amelia attributes their family’s loving relationships to their parents.
“Our good upbringing has kept us close-knitted as siblings. Mom wasn’t working, but it was nice having mom at home because we got to spend quality time with her. My dad worked at Engen garage and they paid for our tuition fees at tertiary. They had a policy that allowed them to pay for their employees’ children. Because of that, we got to study further. We are not in the field yet, but we’re working towards our dreams,” she says.
Regarding family life, she says her dad was so strict that she wasn’t allowed to live with her then-boyfriend until he had, ‘put a ring on it’.
“My husband and I started dating in 1994. Because of all the pressure and everything we were getting from my parents, we eventually got married in 2000. Our personal relationship has even grown [since then] because we get to work and interact with each other more,” she adds.
Talking about their work, Amelia says they have three employees and their business is more than just a money-earner to them.
“I had the opportunity to go back into the corporate world and I had to make a decision. I eventually thought, ‘Why would I want to go back there?’ Here we’re providing employment and helping somebody put food on their table. Going back to nine-to-five working hours means I won’t have time to attend gatherings at my children’s school.”
This entrepreneurial couple even snatched one of their employees from a lion’s mouth: “One guy is a former substance abuser, but seeing him go to work every day really makes us happy. His work keeps him busy so he doesn’t have time to think of other things. It’s so heart-warming to know we’ve help take him out of the bad habits.”
She may have helped someone overcome his hardships, but she wasn’t immune to adversities herself.
“It was a challenge at first, but I told myself that I wouldn’t let that be a stumbling block. If other people can do it, then I can do it as well. I’m doing it for the future of my children. I was so busy with my previous job that I couldn’t sit down and teach them, but now I get them time to. I also put God first in my life and that is where the strength comes from,” she says.
Amelia is the brains and strategy behind the business and her husband is more like the creative hands behind the work.
“My husband is more hands-on and often out of town, and I help out with the admin side of things. I transport the gentlemen we’ve employed to different sites and I fetch them when they’ve completed their work. But, whatever we do, we sit down, plan and agree before we implement.”
As the strategist, Amelia has thought about their business’s future, and it involves moving more into teaching and mentoring.
“The field needs more electricians. The plan is to have my husband conduct workshops and train more guys, so they could open up their own small businesses one day. We are hoping that will help keep more guys off the streets.”
Amelia reiterates that her faith in God has kept her going over the years, and she has advice for the youth out there: “You may think you are the only person but there are a lot of people who are going through worse. Don’t let situations let you down. Don’t portray what you are not, stay true to yourself. Romans 8:18 says, ‘Yet what we suffer is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.’
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” she concludes by quoting Philippians 4:13.