The chicken feet & head business

The chicken feet & head business

MASERU-AS a fulltime housewife, ‘Mamoleboheng Tšolo was dependent on her husband for money. Often the money came with a degree of humiliation.
“He would always complain that I was reckless with money,” recalls Tšolo.
She was in near tears while narrating how such dependence stripped her of her dignity and self-respect.

“It was worse when I asked for money for personal things such as doing my hair. I told myself that I had to escape that kind of abuse,” says the 33-year-old.
She sought to establish her financial independence, and she has no regrets.
She undertook part-time work doing laundry for other women in the village, but the earnings were not enough to cater for her family and personal needs so she diversified.

With the money from the laundry jobs, Tšolo bought a packet of chicken heads and feet and some charcoal and headed for Motsekuoa taxi rank where customers immediately got hooked to her food. She sells the chicken feet and head for one loti each. On average she takes home about M200 a day.

Unhappy at her financial independence, Tšolo’s husband, who works as a queue marshal at the same bus- stop, started blocking her from operating from the taxi rank.
Tšolo refused to budge, continued with her business and even expanded her customer base.
She wakes up at dawn daily to prepare the food before heading out to the taxi rank, only leaving after her stock is finished.

To establish herself, she thought of erecting a shelter to work from so she would pick up old iron sheets and other materials from people around her work place to build a shack.
“I managed to collect enough sheets to erect a shack at the bus stop but I did not have money to pay the person who would erect the shack for me. Later I found someone who was willing to build the shack for in exchange for a cellphone worth M200,” she said.

“From there, I worked harder than before. I was now cushioned from severe weather conditions such as the scorching heat and heavy downpours. I was able to run my business without any form of stress,” Tšolo says.
She now wore an apron whose pockets were stuffed with cash.
She says her business grew significantly because she started selling a variety of fast foods.

One day while she was busy serving customers at her shack, Tšolo received a call from a ‘Mamantšo Community Council councillor asking her to attend a training session for small entrepreneurs.
“The training was about instilling confidence, rekindling hope and introducing good business practices for women. That was where I was taught how to handle money, to be meticulous with money,” Tšolo said.
Now armed with entrepreneurial skills and financial management ethos, Tšolo said she is witnessing “a big difference in my life”.

“I have bigger dreams now,” she says as hordes of people at the taxi rank lined up at her shack to buy food.
“They know where to get delicious foods at the taxi rank,” Tšolo says.
Her husband’s perceptions have changed too.
“He is the one who wakes me up to go to work. He has seen that there is life out there. It is unlike in the past when we were fighting about my desire to gain some independence,” she says.

Men should give their spouses a chance to start their own businesses and provide unwavering support, she says.
Today, Tšolo counts herself as a happy woman who is financially independent.
“Look at me now, you can see that l have money,” she chuckles.

Majara Molupe

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