Celebrating successful women-owned businesses

Starting an Empire with Just R10 000

Women are the pillars of township society, and in honour of Women’s Month in August, Spotong sat down with two successful women in business who have found their passion in life. These women have used their success to empower and inspire other woman to make a better living and also bring positive change into our society. Here are their stories on how they made it and how they overcame challenges on their way to success.            

 A Spice Empire with Just R10 000

A few years ago, Mikie Monoketsi started Mama’s Spices & Herbs, the home of exquisite spices, with just R10 000. The way that she conceptualised the business might leave you questioning a few things you might have read about researching a business idea. Mikie Monoketsi’s research methodologies prior to starting the business were very unconventional by nature. She parked her car in townships that she was familiar with and began speaking to people. Some even allowed her into their kitchens. 

Mikie was surprised to learn how many people in the townships were using very cheap and poor- quality spices. These spices contained high levels of salt, MSG, preservatives, additives and bulking agents – which all negatively impact health and contribute to high levels of hypertension and diabetes. The insights she gained from this formed the basis of her business.

Even though she had done her research and knew that she was onto something big, Mama’s Spices & Herbs almost didn’t materialise. In order to produce spices in South Africa or anywhere in the world for that matter, proper certification is required as well as a fully equipped manufacturing facility. Mikie did not have either of the two, and getting funds would delay her progress. With the help of one of the people she met through networking at a local gym, she managed to launch her business and have her spice range certified.

Women are the pillars of township society, and in honour of Women’s Month in August, Spotong sat down with two successful women in business who have found their passion in life.

Just a few months after launching, Mikie learned an important lesson. Even though her turnover was impressive, she was not making any money. “I found that because I didn’t cost everything, despite my sales improving, I wasn’t making more money. I realised I wasn’t factoring in the samples I was giving out and when you’re in the food industry, market samples are critical but you must factor in their costs. I also realised that using the business as a personal piggy bank was hampering its growth – a few thousand here and there adds up – and I was no more sophisticated than the spaza shops and roadside shisa nyamas I was supplying to,” she said.

To grow and maintain healthy sales volumes, Mikie tapped into her strongest pursuit- networking! She approached an existing entrepreneur who sold potatoes with a six-ton truck and delivered 15 tons of potatoes per month to informal food outlets. This meant that Mikie could access his network of customers to sell her chip spice. Today the company has different products with the latest sensation, Flat Stomach Tea leading the pack. This product, the most popular with customers in both SA and across the border, balances blood sugar and flattens the abdomen.

Mikie Monoketsi has a come a long way since achieving her goals and starting the business with just R10 000 in her pocket. Going forward, she would like to teach others to do the same and start their own businesses, despite limitations. Mikie has embarked on an exciting journey by teaching aspirational entrepreneurs from all walks of life on how to start and run a business of any size. The free workshops will be held at the Mama’s Spices & Herbs headquarters. Themed, “You Can Own a Successful Business,” it will cover the nitty-gritty of conceptualising a business idea and then turning that idea into a striving enterprise. The practical workshops are open to anyone who would like to start a business. The one-day workshops take place on Fridays from 10:00 am to 14:00.

To book a space, email mamaspicesandherbs@gmail.com or call 064 080 3665 / 073 877 6205.

Township Fashion And Catering Queen

Township Fashion and Catering Queen Township-based service-orientated businesses face their own set of challenges and limitations that most people battle to grasp. They are often judged and discriminated against based on where they operate from as the townships are known to be dangerous, riddled with crime and full of unscrupulous chancers. What they have to offer is often the second-best thing prospective clients consider.  This means businesses of Madira Matjeke’s calibre must work extra hard to earn their customer’s trust and to compete with those based in more reputable business districts.

With this knowledge, Madira Matjeke, vowed to defy the odds when she established Madira’s Fashion Design & Catering in 2004. The company was established with experience stemming from her childhood in Mamelodi West. She learnt her design skill from her Mother who would occasionally tailor for people. After completing school, she decided to study fashion to gain more industry knowledge. Seeing that she was also skilled in cooking and décor, which was evident from the many people requesting these services from her, she decided to incorporate décor and catering into the company as it also made good business sense. Following 20 years fashion experience, achieved in the backyard of her home, to owning a reputable fashion house, Madira’s success was inimitable. Her determination was the kind that conquered many stressful and challenging years. Madira’s Fashion Design & Catering is a fashionable terminus company in Mamelodi, East of Tshwane offering comprehensive, quality design, uniquely envisioned, planned and sketched from scratch to their breathtaking actualisation. This is also evident in the catering side of the business. With cooking and décor being one of her great passions, she was able to transfer these skills to her staff.

Madira’s Fashion Design & Catering had its fair share of the spotlight in the industry, with its designs being featured in DRUM Magazine and Makoti Magazine and showcased at Emperors Palace, Baseline and Moretele Park. They have dressed Winnie Mashaba, Candy Tsamandebele, Amstel the Diva, Miss Limpopo 2014 and Bujy Bikwa, to name a few. The current events hosted are Madira’s Annual Fashion Show, Valentine’s Fashion Ball and Mr & Miss Tshwane East. The catering side of the business has grown in leaps and bounds by her customers spreading the word about her business and the services that are offered. She is also a service provider for catering in various government departments and continues to make her customers happy by providing the best catering services for weddings and events.

Clients are assured that the company is run by a well-experienced professional with her roots in the fashion industry and who is able to transfer best practices acquired nationally to deliver excellent results, stemming from the high level of exposure, knowledge, interest, and passion.