Modisane empowers children through development center
Local chef Gobonaone Modisane always knew what she wanted to do with her life from an early age. The talented woman is not only a chef but she also dabbles in entrepreneurship to go along with her skills.
Passionate about food from an early age, the local chef grew up helping her mother prepare meals in the kitchen. “My parents allowed me to play with all kinds of food and I would try new mixtures and recipes,” she said in an interview with Xinhua.
Modisane is the founder of Young Chefs Academy, which she currently manages alongside Nqoosa Development Center in Botswana. Modisane, who graduated on Special Education and Home Economics at the University of Botswana, started her culinary school business back in 2010. “I always knew that I loved working with children and cooking. I saw a gap in the market because parents are busy, children are at school and there is no one to teach them life skills. In the old days our parents would pass down their family recipes and skills to us, but now those skills are dying because people don’t have time,” said the 37-year-old chef.
After doing some research, she stumbled on the Young Chefs Academy, an international franchise which teaches children both cooking skills and baking techniques. The local academy opened with only two workers and five children. After running the business for almost six years Modisane faced a number of challenges.
“At culinary school we were limited to cooking only and it was not allowing us to do anything else, so l opted to rebrand and build Nqoosa Development Center. Through this I wanted a place that can look at the holistic development of a child and use different life skills instead of cooking only,” said Modisane.
She kicked off operations at Nqoosa Development Center in 2019. “At Nqoosa we are able to help groom, nurture and grow children in different aspects of their lives and use my skills that I have acquired as an entrepreneur, a teacher and leader,” she said.
The center has since grown steadily and there are about 40 regular students, three workers and they have developed their own recipes and curriculum. The center so far has reached out to 1,000 children. Students as young as four to 18 years old are taught life’s skills and cooking techniques weekly. “This job gives me the opportunity to empower young lives, to help them make wise decisions and have fun at the same time,” she added.
Over the years, Modisane has won awards including Young Woman of Year and Innovator of the Year offered by Business Association of Botswana.
Currently, the center is running even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and children attend classes in a shift manner as there are morning and afternoon classes. Some of the favorite dishes the children love to make include pizza and sorghum cookies with toppings.
Modisane said she plans to launch her own recipe book and virtual cooking classes to expand her business.