An amazing team, a lot of experience and some new friends.
19-year old Chiara from Switzerland finished her apprenticeship for commercial clerk and spent three months in the UK to improve her English before she came to Cape Town to do an NGO Internship. During the past two months, she has been assisting with marketing, sales, and daily operations in the colorful world of Monkeybiz. This is what she experienced.
How everything started
I remember sitting in front of my computer at home and reading through these blog posts. I was really interested in doing an NGO Internship and doing something that made an impact in this world. The blog posts were so positive and I loved reading through them. The idea of going to South Africa and to work there sounded crazy but I wanted to do something different, something fun and something that not everybody does after finishing an apprenticeship. This thought was on my mind eight months ago and since then a lot has happened. First of all, I finished my apprenticeship as a commercial clerk in Switzerland. Two months later I packed my bags and flew to England where I did my English certificate. While I was there I convinced my parents to do an internship in South Africa and then everything started. The preparation for South Africa began.
What I’ve learned during my internship
I discussed with the Roots team to join Monkeybiz in Cape Town. I loved the reason behind this nonprofit organization and was keen to learn more about it. After a warm welcome in the Monkeybiz Team, my first day started with familiarizing myself with the different animals, sizes, and colors. And let me tell you, there is a lot! But when you look closely and take one animal out of the shelf you see how beautiful it is and how unique their colors and patterns are.
I learned more about the Monkeybiz story as I would be the person who tells the story to customers and tour groups. I also learned how to bead, which I found really exciting. Beading requires a lot of patience and isn’t that easy but after a few attempts, I was able to do it on my own. What I really enjoyed is the working environment. It felt like a little family and we all got along very well.
Most of my time I was working in the studio upstairs where I helped with the order process, the database entry and of course talking to tourists who were interested in hearing more about Monkeybiz. In addition, I learned how to sell a product, helped in the shop whenever they needed help and learned to make the card and cash sales. While doing that I got to know people from different countries which was really interesting.I learned how to approach customers and I was happy when I could help them to find an animal they would fall in love with.
Another experience was the monthly market day, where all the women that work together with Monkeybiz bring in their artwork. My task was to record all the items that came in on that day via an excel spreadsheet. In the beginning, it was a bit overwhelming but I had the possibility to experience the African culture more and more.
Cape Town living
I also had the pleasure to explore Cape Town during my internship. The weekends were always great and I got to do a lot of exciting things. My favorite experiences were hiking up Lions Head at 5 o`clock in the morning to watch the sunrise, surfing in the Big Bay and, of course doing a safari. Living in the Cape Town Loft (that’s how we call the shared apartment) was great! I had the opportunity to meet a lot of people from different countries. Thus, saying goodbye to them at the end of my internship was really sad. I’m grateful that I got the chance to spend my time in Cape Town together with them. I also had the opportunity to volunteer at Greenpop’s Reforest Festival which has been an amazing experience! Again, I got to meet incredible people and learned more about the environment.
Reflections on my time with a Non-Profit-Organisation
Looking back now, I really made the right decision to do an NGO Internship with Monkeybiz. The team is amazing, I gained a lot of experience and made new friends. I learned how a non-profit organization works and how you sell a product. How you talk to customers and how you find out what they would like. Which color combinations work well together and which colors don’t. And how important it is to tell the story and what an amazing project it is. For the women, it is a creative way to get out of poverty and they get empowered by earning their own money. A lot of people come to South Africa with the aim to help locals. With projects like Monkeybiz, it becomes possible.
Great internship opportunity
I would recommend an internship with Monkeybiz to anyone. It is an amazing experience and if you’re interested in helping others, empowering women and in learning more about how a business works along the way this internship is for you.