Isinkwa Sethemba: A Beacon of Hope for the Community

Isinkwa Sethemba Bakery transcends its role as a mere bakery in Matafini under the Mbombela Local Municipality; as the name suggests, it stands as a beacon of hope and a vital source of assistance for the community it serves.
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Isinkwa Sethemba Bakery transcends its role as a mere bakery in Matafini under the Mbombela Local Municipality; as the name suggests, it stands as a beacon of hope and a vital source of assistance for the community it serves.

“In five years I see the business able to help with bursaries, assisting matric learners applying to universities and paying for their registration fees. Currently, we just help learners apply to universities using the company laptop and some of these learners are beneficiaries of our toiletries program which caters to over 50 learners starting from grade 5,” said Moleen Sono, who is one of the four owners.

She clarified that Isinkwa Sethemba Primary Cooperative was established in 2020 with a focus on bread and confectionery production. Initially, they started by selling bread to the wider community and supplying local spaza shops. Over time, the cooperative has expanded its offerings to include scones and vetkoeks.

Sono said they started the cooperation after seeing a gap in the area for a bakery and were pushed by the passion to create job opportunities as well.

“After matric, we also did not want to be part of the unemployment statistics in the country so we started the cooperation and pursued funding after that from the National Development Agency (NDA). If the bakery grows as we envision it, it can employ more than 30 people,” she said.

She conveyed that their plans for expansion in the upcoming year are in full swing. The aim is to cater to the needs of children at John Mdluli Primary School and Cyril Clark Secondary by offering a variety of items such as vetkoeks, buns, doughnuts, and chips.

“We have secured a space and a shelter and we are ready to forge ahead.”

Sono said their main challenge was that they did not have a van to make deliveries and they relied on customers coming to them. However, she added that she remained optimistic that their dream of having a delivery van would come to fruition.

“In the interim, the team is preparing to ensure that once the bakery has a delivery van everyone is equipped to drive it. I already have my license, end of this month another one of us will be going to write the learner driver test and others are still studying to go and write it,” she said.

As part of the Ministerial Outreach Programme in Mpumalanga, the Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu along with the NDA and SASSA recently visited the bakery.

Sono said that the visit gave them hope and affirmation that they were on the right path. “We will continue giving back to the community.”

The Cooperative also offers library services for the community’s children from as young as 3 years old.

“A shelter was created where children make use of the available books and read there even during school holidays and during school terms, others make use of the space to do their homework,” said Sono.

During her visit to the bakery, Minister Zulu commended the young individuals for taking the initiative to contribute not only to their well-being but also to the surrounding community. Isinkwa Sethemba emerges as a beacon of “hope” for the youth in the area.

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“You did not wait to say what the government can do for me, and now we are here to see how we can walk with you on this journey and support you. We are also mobilising those out of government to be able to support you. I ask God to give you strength, wisdom, and courage to take what you have started here to the next level,” said the Minister.

The Minister applauded the Department of Social Development (DSD), South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), and the National Development Agency (NDA) for a collaborative effort in service delivery and implementation of programmes within the DSD portfolio. She further emphasised the importance of networking and working with other like-minded government institutions like Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) to further support initiatives like Isinkwa Sethemba.

She emphasised the significance of diversifying services, particularly in providing sanitary towels. Minister Zulu highlighted the importance of being intentional in targeting children to ensure the promotion of dignity and self-esteem.

“When I say that the department must act collaboratively this is what I mean because we are a portfolio. SASSA and the department are potential clients for the business,” she concluded.

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