BOOST FOR BUSINESSES
IT TOOK nasty South Korean frog feet to inspire Lemogang Aurelia Lehabe to start a catering and accommodation business.
Lehabe, 52, of Ganyesa village in North West, runs the first rural accommodation business in her area.
But things have not been easy.
After being a teacher for more than a decade she realised that she could take her four children to private schools and still be able to pay her bills.
In 1993 she joined the department of sports, arts and culture as an exhibitions coordinator, which was a turning point in her life.
In 1998 she was sent by her department to South Korea where she spent three months learning about exhibitions and accommodation businesses.
"I was frustrated when I saw that every type of cuisine was available, with the exception of South African food," Lehabe said.
"We ate frog's legs and all kinds of stuff and that propelled me to go home and start a business that would be known internationally."
She started her business in 2002, but it was not easy.
"I sent my children to boarding schools so that I could use some of the rooms in my house to host guests."
Lehabe used the vans and trucks that had been left by her late father to collect stones from all over the village to build rondavels.
Her village had never seen such a business in the area. They called her names, saying she was running a brothel.
But Lehabe was getting some clients because her business was situated next to the road - but it was hard to get going properly.
"I could not get tenders even from my department," she said.
Her business, Gae Accommodation and Catering, is on the road to Molopo Game Reserve and on the route via three borders to Botswana.
Though business has not been great since she started, Lehabe has added authentic craft exhibitions, traditional dance and music to her enterprise. She now has 11 rooms for accommodation.
"I will use the money I have won to put a fence around my premises," Lehabe. said
She is one of the 10 top winners of the Believe-Begin-Become (BBB) initiative, who won R110000 last week.
Another winner is 25-year-old Ezekiel Madigoe, who also walked away with R110000 on the day.
Madigoe is about to complete his Master's degree in Chemical Engineering at Wits University.
He works as a lecturer at the Vega Branding School in Randburg.
Madigoe said he would use the money to start a broiler business in his home village, GaMphahlele, near Polokwane in Limpopo.
He runs a spaza shop at the university and also sells computers to small businesses and students at Wits.
"I used to borrow money from friends and family to buy the computers and then sell them at a profit," Madigoe said.
The two businesses have helped him raise R30000 over the last three years for his new venture.
"You can call me a serial entrepreneur. I see a gap and I move in," he said.
BBB is an initiative started by Standard Bank in partnership with TechnoServe - a non-profit economic development organisation that helps entrepreneurs from rural areas.
Another 10 entrepreneurs received R35000 for making it to the top 20.
"The money will not be given to the winners, but whatever service or item they want to buy we will finance it to the total of the amount they won," said Sekoati Pitso, TechnoServe's programme manager.
Standard Bank has budgeted R20million over three years for the programme.
The winners went through a 10-month screening and training period.
Applicants should be from the rural areas and doing business in agri-processing, light manufacturing, construction and tourism.
Entry forms are available at the Small Enterprise Development Agency.
The applicants attend a seminar where they are taught to write a business plan and business concepts.