Caterer nominated for Kenya SheAwards

Thembelihle Shezi. | Supplied

Thembelihle Shezi. | Supplied

Published Jun 12, 2024


Durban — From humble beginnings of selling popcorn from her home, entrepreneur Thembelihle Shezi, of Umbumbulu in KwaZulu-Natal, has been nominated in the #SheBig4Awards in Kenya for Foodpreneur of the Year category, under 30 years.

Shezi is the proud owner of The Joy-Arta Kitchen.

As a passionate and dedicated young female chef, she has been involved in the cooking business for the past two years, honing her skills and crafting delightful culinary experiences.

After graduating from the Durban University of Technology with a Diploma in Drama and Production Studies, Shezi struggled to find employment and she became innovative by opening her own small business.

Shezi said her journey to success was not easy. Her graduation coincided with the devastating onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

“This challenging time hit the media and entertainment industry particularly hard, which left me feeling disheartened and lost.

“While I became the first one in my family to graduate, the burden of my parents’ expectations weighed heavily on my shoulders.

“I had hoped that I would now be able to support them, but the economic turmoil made it impossible,” Shezi said.

Determined to find a solution, Shezi refused to succumb to despair.

Thembelihle Shezi, from the rural area of Umbumbulu in South Africa became innovative by opening her own small business, The Joy-arta kitchen. Picture: Supplied

She then embarked on a journey to create her income stream, starting with selling popcorn from her home.

“As my venture expanded to include selling chicken feet and fat cakes, I managed to generate modest profits.

“With these earnings, I could afford essential expenses such as data for accessing my emails and putting food on the table for my family.

“Eventually, I saved up enough to move to town and establish my own cooking business in 2021,” she said.

Shezi said that the award nomination is another reassurance that anything is possible for a woman if you put in the work.

Shezi said that to be recognised internationally is a huge achievement. Shezi had not imagined to have accomplished such recognition in the few years of her cooking business journey.

Shezi said she was relaunching her kitchens with the little help of funding.

“I am thrilled to have received another nomination from Kenya.

“I had no idea I could possibly qualify but I did submit my profile, as requested, and a few weeks later I received the news that I had been nominated,” she said.

She encouraged people to vote for her on the SheAwards Big 4 website.

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