She may not have known it at the time, but when Mogau Seshoene offered to help a friend whip up a truly South African traditional dish, the entrepreneurial bone in her came to the fore.
What started out as lending a culinary hand to a friend who was ‘hungry’ for cooking lessons in South Africa cuisine, catapulted Mogau to the wonderland of business adventure, risk-taking and financial freedom.
Today she is founder and CEO of The Lazy Makoti, a disruptive start-up that empowers rural and township women to host cooking classes on African traditional recipes and cuisine and sell hand-made locally produced kitchen accessories. This includes chopping boards, aprons and other locally inspired kitchen utensils.
“Not only do I get to do what I love and am passionate about on a daily basis, I am also able to share my joy with other women. All this whilst preserving our African cultural heritage. Together we bring new excitement and discoveries to Africa’s cuisine. This we do in interactive, immersive and vibrant cooking classes and cultural dining experiences,” says Mogau.
Several awards later – including being among the prestigious league of the NDP Youth Ambassadors; recipient of the Tshwane Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2015 and host of a TV cooking show, Cooks for Life on DSTV channel 199 (Jan – April 2016) – Mogau has set her sights on building a fully-fledged cooking institute complete with a state-of-the-art kitchen studio.
Besides producing more cooking books and manuals, this energetic go-getter and role model for young people wants to expand the reach of her online shop which sells contemporary locally made kitchen accessories.
“What sets us apart is that our products are locally produced by ordinary hardworking people in the townships. This helps in empowering local communities, among them Mamelodi. I am born, ‘bread’ and ‘buttered’ in the township. It fulfils me to share the success of the company and that of my own with the people who made me and nurtured me whilst growing up in the township,” she says.
With a natural streak for risk-taking and pushing the boundaries, Mogau left the security of a cushy 9 to 5 job in the corporate world, to pursue her dream of creating jobs and becoming a thriving entrepreneur.
“After doing a few cooking lessons with my friend more people approached me with requests to teach them how to make traditional dishes. I’d say that is when the entrepreneurial bug bit me. I saw a gap in the market and was ready to provide a solution. That’s when I left my steady job in the financial services sector to start and run my own business,” Mogau says.
She has never looked back. Why in 2016 Mogau made the list as a Mandela Washington fellow at the University of Wisconsin in the USA. Last year she featured in the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list.
Besides helping more women, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, venture into business and showcase their talent in African cuisine, Mogau is working on ensuring the expansion of The Lazy Makoti brand into major retail chain enterprises in the country, the greater continent and ultimately the world.
What does she want to be remembered for?
“I wish to be remembered as someone who did her best to help others believe in themselves and reach for their dreams. This is particularly so for young girls and boys. I want every person from a township to know and believe that anything is possible as long as you put your mind, belief and strength into it.”
Mogau’s advice for young and upcoming entrepreneurs?
“The most important step in any journey is to start. Start with whatever resources, no matter how little, are at your disposal. Ask lots of questions and sponge information off from mentors and those who have been there before you. Keep redefining yourself by consuming books attending workshops and obtaining new information in your chosen field.”