Mikie Monoketsi knows what it is like to have nothing, to have lost everything and to have to start again. Faced with this challenging situation, it is easy to find something or someone to blame, but Mikie says each one of us has a choice in how we respond to options in daily life, and there is no future in being a victim.
Growing up in a poverty-stricken Kimberley township, Mikie learned to find solutions for situations she did not enjoy. She realised she had the power to create the future she wanted. At 13, in order to have food and a small income, she started cooking street food for the patrons of her grandmother’s shebeen, making butterscotch and selling tobacco for a small mark up in her community.
This meant she no longer went hungry and did not have to walk the 7km to school and back every day. Her innate entrepreneurial spirit filled her lunch box and gave her taxi money.
Her business career has not been without difficulties but these have taught her patience, perseverance and planning. Mikie understands the importance of setting clearly defined goals, measuring achievements and working hard to enjoy success. She says: “I learned early in life that the only person who could change my circumstances was me. I had to decide what I wanted to do, plan carefully and make it happen.”
When a venture in the formal business sector failed, Mikie returned to her roots, opening a street shop in Cosmo City. Here she cooked and sold simple food to passers-by, making a very modest profit for hours and hours of hard work. Although she enjoyed her time in this community, Mikie yearned for bigger ventures and wanted to make a difference in the lives of others, rather than merely supply meals.
Chatting to customers she listened to daily complaints about their wish to be mokhaba free, understood how exhausted many of them were, and heard tragic stories of young lives lost to preventable disease. She realised she could contribute positively to the lives of others.
Mikie had always been a fitness fanatic who exercised regularly and made wise choices about meals. She knew she had lifestyle information to share. She wanted to educate and empower people to live a healthier life and to help reduce the prevalence of lifestyle related diseases, including obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
So she began researching ways to improve the body’s functioning and discovered age-old natural remedies found in a range of herbs and spices. This was the birth of Mamas Herbs and Spices, a proudly South African company.
Mikie discovered combinations and blends of ingredients which helped reduce bloating and improve the digestive system and developed a tasty, completely natural tea which she named Flat Stomach Tea. The initial order was sold out in a few weeks and testimonies began to pour in from people who felt more energetic, slimmer and healthier since they began drinking the tea.
Mikie combined this product with information on making healthy meal choices: choosing oats, lean protein, fruit and vegetables rather than clogging the body with saturated fat, refined carbohydrates and sugar. This resulted in demand for product and before long Flat Stomach Power Oats, Flat Stomach Meal Replacement Shake and a Detox and Wellness Tea had been added to the range. This was followed by a range of natural spices without bulking agents, colourants and flavouring, as well as a nourishing yet low calorie soup and beauty products.
As market demand increased, Mikie acknowledged that she could not provide an efficient and effective service to customers countrywide, so offered like-minded entrepreneurs the opportunity to join her by becoming agents and starting their own small business.
Again, demand exceeded expectations with people from all provinces and neighbouring countries joining the distribution network and becoming financially independent. She says: “This was an important step in helping to stimulate township economies and empowering people to start their own business, but I realised people needed training and could learn from my experiences.”
Mikie moved to a larger premises in Randburg, where she offered free training to entrepreneurs, teaching them how to set goals, market their business, retain customers and secure a sustainable income stream.
The next step in developing a healthy lifestyle was to introduce the importance of daily exercise. Mikie began offering classes in her business premises and posted short videos on social media platforms demonstrating how simple exercises could be done at home. This attracted a dedicated following and again reports were received on how people felt more energised from doing moderate exercise every day.
Last year, an international company noticed the Flat Stomach range and approached Mamas Herbs and Spices, offering the opportunity of expanding into the international market. Again, this venture has been a huge success with testimonials of people who have transformed their lives being received regularly.
Mikie says: “The success is rewarding, but more important is knowing that people are beginning to make a mindset shift. They are learning that they can improve their health and that good nutrition is essential for the body to function and be disease-free. Watching people find hope and being able to provide for their families is an extremely satisfying experience. I will continue to empower, educate and uplift others so that they can live healthy lives and achieve financial independence by running their own small entrepreneurial enterprise.”