Nomzekelo was raised in Khayelitsha and has been part of the Amy Foundation for over fifteen years. An active kid growing up, her primary school offered her the opportunity to join the Amy Foundation’s after-school programmes and she immediately signed up. She was mostly part of the dance programme, and was one of the children chosen by the foundation to partner with JazzArts, a dance project that has worked with the foundation for many years. “We would go to Ads Cape every Saturday to the JazzArts dance project, and we would learn contemporary dance…It was something new, something fun, that we loved.”

She was part of the after-school programmes throughout primary school, then moved on to secondary school and focused on her matric. The impact of the foundation lasted long after she left the programmes, changing the way she saw the world and the standards she held for herself. Being at school long after the day finished kept her away from the negative influences of the streets and gave her little time to mess around with drugs, sex, and alcohol. “If I was never part of the Amy Foundation at that time, I would not know how I would be now, if I would still be alive…Or maybe I would have multiple kids at this age…but the fact that I was part of the [Amy Foundation] at that time meant I wasn’t exposed to negative things.” 

After earning her matric, Nomzekelo signed up for a hospitality job agency, filling in for various positions in the hospitality industry all across the city. “I was not only a waiter, sometimes I would be exposed to the bar, be a barista, or sometimes do decor setups…They would teach us, or we would learn from other people, but I got to be exposed to almost every corner of hospitality.” The experience she gained from working at the agency inspired her to start her own catering business in Khayelitsha. “I started my company, I was not registered. I was just there if there were events…I didn’t know how to bake, I learnt through YouTube.” She would look for posters advertising events, then would call the event organizers to ask if she could cater for them, or would set up a table outside the event venue and sell homemade goods to attendees. All that she had was R200 as pocket change and an unstoppable drive to succeed. 

Nomzekelo attended countless entrepreneurship workshops and seminars, working overtime to grow her business. She registered as a company and began to cater for larger events, eventually earning several referrals from past clients to new ones. “A referral is a good thing for any business because it means that you provided a service and they were happy with what you did.” 

From that R200 pocket change, Nomzekelo has grown her business to be worth R80 000. She has her own food trailer and culinary equipment, and is currently working to expand to include decorations and further staffing. She has two full-time employees and two part-time ones, creating a rippling change in her community as she creates jobs and opportunities for others. 

She saw the Amy Foundation’s YSD hospitality programme on Facebook and didn’t hesitate to sign up. “I know this foundation and I trust them… [I didn’t even] go to the website because I know them and I trust them from what I got when I was in primary school.” She is currently enrolled in the hospitality programme and hopes to gain the skills needed to further advance and expand her company. 

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