My name is Noko Maganyele. I am 40 years old and I own a small growing business called Barolong African Food that sells hot meals and refreshments. We proudly serve Diepsloot, a busy community just north of Johannesburg.

People keep coming back to my restaurant because of my mogodu. Mogodu is tripe, an African favourite.

I am a mother to five beautiful children left to me by my sisters after their passing. I do not have any children of my own, but I see my nieces and nephews as my own. I always say that “your family’s children are your children.”

I believe women were made to be strong and to never give up. As a mother, you need to ensure that you are doing everything in your power so that your children go far in life. This is what motivates me every day.

Before I opened my business, I was working as a waitress at a restaurant for six years, but in 2010 I lost my job. This was the moment that changed everything.  

I knew I had to make a plan to make sure I could afford to take care of my family. I always loved cooking since I was a little girl and I decided that I was going to use my skill to make a living.

I started off with just a table in front of my yard selling mokgodu. Diepsloot is a very close community and my neighbours and friends all came through to support me. 

My mokgodu and pap had my customers coming back for more and begging me to add more options to my menu, so I did.

I feel like I know what hard work and patience can do for me. I put away as much money as possible to build an actual shop in front of my house so that my customers could sit down and eat or have shelter when there is bad weather.

My road to success has been challenging. Although my time working as a waitress helped guide me when I started, I didn’t have the necessary business management skills.

Some of my problems were that I did not know how much money was coming in and out of my business so I did not know what income I was making.  

I didn’t know that I had to pay myself a salary. I used the money I was making in my business for personal use.  

I didn’t know that my business was separate from me. 

Last year I was approached to take part in a business skills workshop that is run by Coca-Cola, UN Women and Hand In Hand. I joined the workshop and I received training on daily record keeping, managing stock and business marketing and many other skills.

Soon I was able to pay myself a salary. And I opened up a business bank account separate from my personal account. I used the marketing training to put an advertising board outside of my restaurant but one day I hope to to put a big billboard up at the entrance of Diepsloot.

I am also working on making menus for my customers and creating a uniform for my staff. I am very proud of my business and want to attract even more customers, maybe even tourists.

After my training, my eyes have been opened up to great possibilities. All the skills that I learned helped me to nearly double my profit.

But, more important than money, my self-confidence has grown and I am happy to be able to take care of my children and mother while doing what I love. I now have three employees, and I am honoured to be able to create jobs in my community and to share my skills with my staff.

I also belong to a social club in my community, where we share our stories and we support each other – this is where I help other women so that we are all successful.

Sometimes when I look around my business, I see how far I have grown and I am filled with so much pride I could cry.  

Now I do not worry about my future, I am excited just thinking about how much more I can do. I want to transform my business further so I can add other services that will help my business and serve the needs of the community.

Most of all I want to see my children doing well. I am currently saving to send my youngest daughter to a better school so she can fulfil her dream of becoming a doctor one day.  In my world when you shape a young mind you help shape the world.

Thank you for letting me share my story with you. And I’m living my dream by doing that. It’s the best feeling in the world!