The ‘Garden of Eden’ in Berea

The ‘Garden of Eden’ in Berea

THUATHE – Want to keep your life private but still enjoy outdoor activity? Then Banesa Gardens might just be the place to be.
Situated on the south-west edge of Berea Plateau rock face, Banesa Gardens is secluded and offers a perfect aerial view of Maseru.
This place was once wild and rocky but it now boasts of beautiful flowers and neatly manicured lawns offering clients a chance to relax and focus or celebrate in a serene environment.

It is a preferred venue for individuals who like to keep their celebrations intimate and exclusive.
Though the owner emphasises that a lot of work still needs to be put in, Banesa Gardens is already the talk of the town.
In 2009 ’Makeboneng Mofolo, the Banesa Gardens’ founder, had a vision to transform the site into something breath-taking, private and welcoming.
“We had to do some work on my house and my husband who already had this site said we should move up here. But when I got here I saw something else, it was not a place to live on but one to do something more challenging, bigger and expressive,” Mofolo says.

Though she was a businesswoman and a resourceful person, she indicates that she started the new venture “with nothing”.
Mofolo, in possession of just a Form E certificate, worked at a cafe soon after getting married.
“I used to sell fat cakes and soon ventured into the curtain business,” Mofolo says.

After 20 years she left the business and went to South Africa where she stayed at a livestock farm.
“I was a bored housewife then I decided to start a poultry and piggery project but soon left it,” Mofolo says.
She came back home in 2006 and ventured into the butchery business.

She did not last long in the business because “there was too much to do and the business demanded my presence all the time”.
She then decided to go back to her curtain-making business in 2007 as her former clients had been asking her to come back.
This time around her daughter, a dental technician by profession, joined her,

“I loved my job but working for the government took the love away. I would sit the whole day without doing anything so I decided to quit and joined my family business,” the daughter, Kananelo Mofolo, says.
Together they became a force to reckon with and became a household name in the curtain industry.
However, in 2013 she left the curtain business to start building Banesa Gardens.

“It was tough as I had to be everything, the architect, engineer, site supervisor and contractor but when I look where I am today it was worth it,” Mofolo says. Money was a challenge at first but she made a decision not to approach a bank or any individual to borrow money.
“I would not have qualified for a loan and I did not even have collateral,” Mofolo says.
“All I had was my vision and the determination to see it materialise,” she says.

“Therefore, I would stop construction every time I ran out of funds and started again when I had the funds. As a result I ended up using too many contractors.” She says she also used the little that she got from the curtain business to get things done.
She also says she did not hire any professionals like architects because she could not afford it.
“I used to consult a lot, sought advice from professionals and did a lot of research,” Mofolo says.
Access to the place and the rocky landscape were the other challenges.

“We had to do everything for ourselves, the road which is still a challenge even now especially when it rains, water and electricity,” Mofolo says.
She acknowledges that the mother-daughter relationship played a huge role in getting where she is today.
“There are a lot of challenges which an employee would not withstand. For example, so far we are not getting any salaries because we are reinvesting everything in this project,” she says.

“We want to make it the best it can be.”
“We know her weaknesses and she knows ours. Sometimes we go ahead and do things and inform her later, it is both an advantage and disadvantage of knowing each other too much,” Kananelo says.

Mofolo says working with her daughter has helped her become as transparent as possible.
“She knows where every cent has gone to and my other kids usually help with ideas because at the end of the day I am building a legacy that will exist long after I am gone,” Mofolo says.  They however say they have long drawn the line in the sand.
“When it comes to business, it is business and we have to be professional and when it is family time we become family like anyone else,” Kananelo says.

She adds that working with her mother has afforded her a chance to express herself freely without worrying about suspension or getting fired.
“She knows that I would not make a decision that will hurt her and vice-versa. We both want to see this project succeed,” she says.
She says one of the reasons she decided to quit her job as a dental technician and work for her family business was so that she could understand the ins and outs of the business so that even if her mother passes on her legacy would still continue, which is not always the case with a lot of family owned businesses.

“When the owner or parent dies usually the business also collapses because the children had no clue about the ins and outs of the business,” Kananelo says. Mofolo says one of the disadvantages of working for her family business is that she is on call 24/7 without a salary “but it is a worthy sacrifice, one that will benefit me for a lifetime once everything is in motion”.
Mofolo states that so far things are coming along well.

“People love this place and they are making demands for things like accommodation, conference halls and a bigger hall to host an indoor event,” she says. “This is a blessing because I didn’t think that by now we would be at this point already.”
Currently construction of a few accommodation facilities is almost complete and soon they will start accommodating clients.

Currently their biggest clients are individuals and businesses who want to have parties, baby showers, graduation and wedding celebrations.
“For weddings we used to charge for the venue and let them do their own catering and décor but because of the amount of damage we incurred we now charge for catering only in order to minimise the damage to our appliances,” Mofolo says.

However she says for parties and baby showers where no cooking will be needed they rent out the venue and only cater if requested.

Lemohang Rakotsoane

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