BBL PARTICIPANT: Pauline Moyo, Majakaneng, Marikana, North West
In a Nutshell
Through her participation in SocioTech’s Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) strategies to stimulate personal economic activity, Pauline Moyo has acquired business skills to support her successful baking business. She has also enhanced her horticultural knowledge and practice.
When I was a child in Zimbabwe my parents had a small food garden in Gweru with tomatoes and peppers and so forth, but the main farming happened at my family’s rural home in Zvishavane. There were fields of mabele and maize as far as the eye could see. Mabele is always a problem because birds and baboons love it, so part of my job as a child was to make the scarecrows to try and keep them away.
We also grew lovely melons in the summer – almost like a watermelon but yellow inside – we call that ‘mashamba’. You take off the shell of skin and take out the seeds and cook it down, then mix in maize and sometimes a bit of sugar and serve it as porridge. That is so nice. Although my favourite bit is the seeds – you take those seeds and you roast them and then you pound them until they are a paste almost like peanut butter. That paste makes a wonderful relish. We call that ‘ropiza’. Not only is it delicious, it is good for you too.
"I think people get homesick..."
Those traditional fruit and vegetables like the mashamba don't need a lot of water which is wonderful in drought conditions. Now, here in Majakaneng I haven’t tried mashamba because I don’t have enough space, but I do grow other the vegetables that we ate in Zimbabwe when I was a child. I grow tsunga (mustard greens) and covo (which is like a kind of kale and is lovely with tomatoes and onions served with sadza and chicken). I sell those to other Zimbabweans. South Africans prefer spinach but there is a big market for those Zimbabwean style leaves which have a stronger more peppery flavour. I think people get homesick and they long for those tastes. Sitting here now, looking out over my covo and tsunga crops it almost feels like home.
As you can probably tell, I like to cook. In fact, when I first came to South Africa in 2010, I worked as a chef assistant at a lodge in the Magaliesburg. I have always liked working with pastry and at the lodge I was responsible for breads and cakes and sometimes fruit tarts – all those nice little treats that customers like with their tea. Now what I do is bake at home and sell at the taxi rank. I wake up at 3am every day and bake and then I sell them to commuters. I have to get up so early so that I catch them on their way into work. I do buns and muffins for the taxi rank (R2.50 per muffin) because that is what people fancy in the morning.
I met Charles from SocioTech a year ago and his training and guidance has helped a lot. I have a good skill in baking but learning the details of how to make business is something else. Charles taught me about the value of recording everything as you go along. For instance, in the past, someone would say to me ‘give me two cupcakes and I will pay you later’ and I used to just give things on credit and then I would forget. That doesn’t happen anymore. I also believe in the money bottle strategy. I tried it between October and December last year and it really worked well as a way of saving.
I look five years into the future I dream of farming on those wide-open spaces in Zimbabwe. I don’t know if that will ever be possible, but I do know that to do it, requires capital. Capital comes from being sensible in business. If I use the business skills that I have learnt with Charles from SocioTech I think that dream could come true...