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Meals on wheels

Christinah Motlhabane
DAILY GRIND: Mothobi pushing her trolley
  • Food on the move gets Ghetto jumping

Wandering through the heart of Ghetto during the day, chances are you will come across a woman clad in overalls, a bright smile fixed firmly upon her face as she wheels a customized trolley up and down the second city’s famous Blue Jacket Street.

Piled high but crammed safely atop the modified device are steaming meals of various traditional foods, delights which Tshireletso Mothobi has made that very day.

Every morning apart from Saturday when she is at church, the 42-year-old is up at 4am, hard at work in the kitchen while the majority of the city sleeps.

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Shortly after daybreak, her food finally ready, with trolley in tow Mothobi sets off from her mother’s house in Area L, making her way slowly into the city centre where hungry customers lie in wait.

This is Meals on Wheels and it has transformed the mother-of-four’s life.

“Being born in a poor family and raised by an unemployed single parent made me the woman I am today,” the Makuta native tells Voice Money as we walk the streets with her this week.

Running for just over a year, the mobile restaurant already commands a loyal customer base.

The bubbly businesswoman is evidently a popular figure, with many shouting out greetings as she hurries past.

Many more call after her, eager to find out what treats she has cooked up today.

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“I used to work in the kitchens in Spar but the salary I was getting was not enough. I started cooking and selling food at home on my free days and I realised that I was making better money. So I said to myself, ‘why not focus on my business and go around selling food?’ I asked my colleague who was repairing trolleys at Spar to build me a nice trolley with an open space and he did. I only paid him P500,” explains Mothobi.

Meals on wheels

And thus, in September last year, Meals on Wheels was born.

“It has been profitable from day one,” she notes with a smile, talking while dishing beans and samp to a young man for just P8.

At the beginning, Mothobi’s menu was restricted to maize, beans and chicken hearts, feet and gizzards. After a successful launch, she branched out, adding pap and chicken to the carte of goodies.

To start with, her target market was those who work in the shops, including Supermarkets and the Chinese stores so prominent in Francistown.

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“As I know from experience, they don’t get paid well and can’t afford to spend on expensive breakfasts and lunch. I wanted to offer an affordable alternative but keeping the quality high,” says Mothobi.

However, as word spread of this impressive lady and her meals on the move, her clientele began to grow.

“I am happy to tell you that even those in suits buy my food. Cars beep at me to stop so they can buy. Although my intention is to make money, it is not to rob my clients of their hard-earned cash!”

Reluctant to reveal exactly how much she makes in a month, Mothobi assures us she doing alright.

“Next year I will be able to build myself a nice house in my plot at Tatisiding; I have already opened a material account with a hardware shop,” she says, her features lit up with a broad grin.

As for competition, the entrepreneur proudly notes hers is currently the only business of its kind in Ghetto.

“I do not have to stand and wait for clients, no they are the ones running after me, calling me, stopping me when I pass. My meals are in demand. I hardly go home with leftovers. If it happens that I have leftovers, I give them to those who are struggling to put food on the table.”

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Calling on the nation’s unemployed to think outside the box instead of sitting at home and musing over the lack of job openings, Mothobi urges then to follow her example and take control of their own destiny.

“I am an Early Childhood certificate holder but that did not keep me at home waiting for a job; you have to be proactive!”

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