All4Women Entrepreneurs is a monthly feature where we put the spotlight on amazing female entrepreneurs starting businesses in South Africa. This month we spoke to Mogau Seshoene (AKA The Lazy Makoti) to find out how she turned her side hustle into a viable business.

  • Entrepreneur: Mogau Seshoene
  • Company name: The Lazy Makoti
  • Industry: Food
  • Year started: 2014
  • Website: thelazymakoti.com

In case you don’t know, ‘makoti’ means ‘daughter-in-law’, and before 2014, many makotis across South Africa were defeated by traditional South African food and the thought of cooking for their families. Traditional techniques and dishes were being forgotten and family gatherings were the things of nightmares.

But by the end of 2014, we all found a hero in 30-year-old Mogau Seshoene. The author, chef, and former auditor has since turned the food world on its head, keeping ancestral South African recipes alive in the process.

Related: The Lazy Makoti shares 3 things small business owners should look for in an employee

Where does The Lazy Makoti come from?

Going from auditor to chef may seem like a giant leap, but for Lazy Makoti, Mogau Seshoene, it was one driven by passion, a love for food and the pursuit of happiness.

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“Growing up I was what people describe as a smart girl. When you do well at school you’re encouraged to pursue a ‘real career’, things like accounting, medicine, law and auditing. That’s what I did, I was a smart girl making a smart decision,” says Mogau.

Although she was doing well in her job as an auditor, Mogau says she always felt like something was missing, she may have been the right woman for the job, but the job of an auditor just wasn’t the right one for her.

Related: 5 Leadership lessons business books won’t teach you

Taking the plunge

“While I was still working my day job, I taught a colleague how to cook before she got married. She didn’t want to be labelled a ‘lazy makoti’, so I showed her my favourite traditional recipes. Before I knew it, word spread and I had more people wanting me to teach them how to cook over weekends. The more people I taught, the more I realised that this was where I belonged, this is what I want to do and this is what makes me happy,” she says.

At the age of 26, Mogau made the brave decision to leave her job – and all the security it came with – to chase her dream.

“I won’t lie, I was scared, but it was what I wanted to do. Sharing my plans with my parents wasn’t easy because they just wanted the best for me and they worried, but I knew I could always go back to auditing if I needed to. I knew if I let this go I would always regret it,” explains Mogau.

Access to funding and mentorship

Mogau knew she needed funding to support her new business idea. She applied to the SAB KickStart enterprise development programme and won! Mogau used the prize to fund her studies in culinary arts and added the remaining amount to the money she had saved to start her business. But the prize also came with mentorship and business development support, which Mogau says was the real winner.

“The best thing I did was plan. If I could have, I would have gone in with more money from my savings. Then again, if I had done that, I wouldn’t have needed to apply for funding through SAB KickStart where I learned so much. The mentorship I received through their incubation programme was invaluable,” Says Mogau.

Mogau is passionate about mentoring and guiding others too. She now employs three other women directly and a few others on an adhoc basis.

“A good employee is someone who can see themselves outside the business. You need to think of opportunities beyond what they are currently doing. I like forward-thinking people who are assertive and have goals outside of just their current employment,” she says.

Forcing her way into a gap  

Although The Lazy Makoti has achieved incredible success in a short space of time, getting her book of traditional South African recipes published has been one of her greatest achievements. “Getting the book on the shelves was not easy, but it wasn’t something I was willing to give up on. At some point I even considered self-publishing because I kept sitting across the table from people who did not understand that there was a need for a book of traditional South African recipes,” says Mogau. She knew there was a market for the book because of how much demand there was for her cooking lessons.

And she was right! Mogau’s first book The Lazy Makoti’s Guide to the Kitchen has been reprinted four times in four months and is among South Africa’s top 50 bestselling books!

Having to fight her way into an industry with only a handful of young black women having achieved notable success, Mogau hopes her struggles and those of her peers will pave the way for other women to access the culinary industry without having to constantly explain and excuse themselves.

Where to now for the Lazy Makoti

There’s no stopping Mogau! Now that she has conquered South African kitchens, she wants to expand her skills and her reach as a teacher to other African countries.

Whatever the future holds for her, she is passionate about preserving culture and passing down tradition through traditional food. We can’t wait to see what she does next!

Now read: Starting a business? 5 Things you need to make your dream a reality