A Re Yeng Basadi Soldiers On

| November 5, 2014 | 0 Comments

When other people became impatient and left, they kept the fire burning remembering that what they have is a gift from heaven.

Two women of Tonota, Ms Kemo Tlhobogang and Ms Sethunya Bontsi never give up easily and failure does not have a place in their lives. The duo are operating a bakery trading as A re yeng Basadi in Tonota.

When they started in 1996, it was a project run by 10 women, who were members of the Botswana Red Cross club, but only two remained.

In an interview, Ms Tlhobogang, who manages the bakery, said they came up with the idea of running a bakery after they met a Canadian woman, Ms Karen Kandasamy, whose husband was working in Botswana.

Ms Tlhobogang said Ms Kandasamy asked them to come up with an idea of what they could do with their own hands to improve their lives. They suggested sewing and knitting amongst others, but Ms Kandasamy suggested they start cooking and baking bread.

“We were unemployed at the time and we really had so much time. So we would gather at the kgotla as women now and then to share ideas and that is where the Canadian woman met us,” she said.

Ms Kandasamy acquired some funds from an organisation in Canada for the project and they managed to build a moderate building where they would operate the bakery. “There was already a piece of land that was formerly used by the Village Development Committee where we built the bakery.

Fortunately, for us there were some villagers who were more than willing to help us with the building process,” she said.

Furthermore, Ms Tlhobogang said the bakery started as a voluntary venture and they would come every day in the morning to bake different kinds of bread. When they started, she said, they were making profits as they supplied primary schools and other local supermarkets.

Ms Tlhobogang noted that initially they had a stove, which could make up to 40 loaves, and in 1998 they approached the Women’s Affairs and engaged them in the project.

The Women’s Affairs department in Francistown played a pivotal role in the establishment of the bakery, as they organised workshops for them, she said. Along the way, they got a slicing machine from the former Member of Parliament (MP) for Tonota South, Mr Pono Moatlhodi and a mixing machine he acquired through the American Embassy.

In the 2000, they received P81 000 from the Women’s Affairs department, and they purchased an oven worth P49 500, a fridge, a safe and a wardrobe.

Ms Tlhobogang said they still use the equipment and the wardrobe even today. She said as with any other business, the bakery faces challenges and is not performing well, and they also fail to meet customer demands on time.

Ms Tlhobogang appeals to other women who are willing to work at the bakery on a voluntary basis to avail themselves, as the business needs about five people. She cited one challenge as lack of market, particularly that they were no longer supplying schools with bread as in the past.

She noted that the opening of bigger supermarkets in the village has affected their business as people prefer to buy from supermarkets saying they were cheaper. The manager said they had not given up on their business, as they still have hopes that it would improve with time.

Ms Tlhobogang said what keeps her going is the fact that the project was a special gift from someone who saw a need to engage women in society. She vowed to continue the legacy left for them by the Canadian woman. For her part, Ms Bontsi, who is the treasurer, said she is determined to turn the business into a success.

Why the other women left, Ms Tlhobogang said they became impatient, as the idea was to generate profits first and then divide it amongst members later. But, some could not wait that long, and as a result, they demanded their share and left. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Business & Finance

Leave a Reply