Mopai driven by quest to inspire women

Eva Mopai busy in the workshop
Eva Mopai busy in the workshop

When Eva Mopai quit her job as a customer care officer for the Tshwane municipality 13 years ago, to sell home-baked biscuits, some people were not impressed with her decision.

Today, the mother of two from Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria, is a proud and successful businesswoman who runs a thriving catering company as well as a steel and aluminium products workshop.

The two establishments employ a combined 18 people, and her dream is to grow these companies so she could employ more people.

Mopai is a familiar face, having appeared on popular SABC soapie Generations as Kenneth Mashaba's business associate, Jessica Khumalo. She has also featured in various TV adverts.

But it is Mopai's journey to the top in business that has become an inspirational story in her hometown.

"I work really hard and my motto is: nothing is impossible. If I think of something, I go for it. I love working with my hands. Growing up with my brothers, I would help whenever they were fixing cars. That is the kind of person I am," she said.

Mopai, 49, completed her matric at Saulridge High School in Atteridgeville and enrolled for a sales and marketing certificate at Damelin College. She completed the course in 1993.

The following year she enrolled for a certificate course in public relations. In 1996, she was employed by the Tshwane municipality as administration officer in the Atteridgeville customer service centre, proceeding to become a customer care officer in 2003, but quit the job two years later.

"I worked at the front desk and my heart would be torn into pieces when serving poverty-stricken people. I would give away my lunch box to people. One day I thought I had to do something about the poverty in my community. I quit and baked biscuits which I would sell door to door.

"Within a month I had hired six people to sell the biscuits," she said.

This venture gave birth to the Eva African Restaurant, which she ran from home with the help of her supportive husband, David.

Soon Mopai was catering for the Tshwane council meetings and those of its top management.

But this was not enough, so she started a welding business, working from home. Now she owns her own workshop, the Eva's Steel and Aluminium in Pretoria West.

"Women must join hands to fight poverty. I am prepared to take them under my wing through their journey to success. I want people who are prepared to roll up their sleeves and stop complaining that some jobs are for men."