From a very young age, Modiehi Mokoena was determined to lift her family out of poverty by contributing to the family income.
Modiehi who has always been business-minded ventured into selling clothes, became a nail technician, and opened a hair salon in her mom’s dining room.
“Since I was a child, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, I used to sell sweets at school; it seems I have always been an entrepreneur,” says Modiehi.
In 2016 while working as a Tholoana consultant she knew she wanted to be independent and have her own business.
Modiehi then established Didi Deco and Hire Events Planner, an events and catering company based in the Free State.
In building her own business she hired six relatives in the hope that they too would be able to provide for their families.
“I wanted to help members of my family improve their lives and send their children to school. This business made a big impact in the community because I managed to put bread on the tables of more than four families,” says Modiehi.
In a country where more than half of the population is living in poverty and earning an average salary of R561 (extreme poverty line), Modiehi was determined to counteract that and make a difference.
The young businesswoman believes that entrepreneurship will create a long-lasting solution to the poor’s struggles.
One of her proudest moments was having one of her cousins pay for their tuition fees using their earned money at Didi Deco.
“I can say we fought poverty from all angles, and I am glad to say there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” says Modiehi.
Modiehi became part of the SAB Foundation Tholoana Programme in 2019.
The Tholoana programme is an initiative that invests in entrepreneurs who show passion and commitment to growing the South African economy. The business support programme offers mentorship, business development workshops, and seed funding.
It also provides opportunities for women, persons with disabilities and youth in rural areas.
This is done through two years of structured business support with access to markets.
Modiehi’s mentor, John Matthew, has shared his invaluable set of skills and knowledge with her.
Matthew praises Modiehi’s industry knowledge of events, parties, and ceremonies, etc.
“She is an excellent marketer and is very inventive with marketing and advertising. As a result, her sales skills are also very good. I cannot mentor her a lot in that department,” he says.
The number one tip he has taught his mentee is to take advantage of opportunities from difficulties and obstacles. If she sees something as an obstacle, then her competitors probably experience it in that way as well.
The mentor advises young entrepreneurs to “be aware and sensitive to risks and threats, and make sure to mitigate these risks and threats through executable strategies”.