Food by the Gift, a catering and events company based in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, recently launched its first product – a range of cold-pressed juices – not only to survive lockdown restrictions, but also as means to promote healthy living.

The company is the brainchild of owner and managing director Thandazani Zulu, a young businesswoman from Kwesakamthethwa, a rural area in Empangeni.

Zulu recalled that the idea to start the business came about when she experienced financial challenges as a first year university student, which forced her to think out of the box.

“I started selling muffins around campus and that essentially became the foundation of Food by the Gift. A year later, I introduced sandwiches and platters which then motivated me to start my own catering company,” she said.

Zulu holds a certificate in business administration, a degree in Bachelor of Business Administration and recently obtained a BCom Honours from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

She is also a student at the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (run by the US Embassy in South Africa) and is currently serving as a board member of the South African School of Practical Skills and Life by Design.

Hit by lockdown

Like most businesses in South Africa, Zulu’s company was severely impacted by the lockdown restrictions brought about by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March last year.

“Events were closed, and it affected us badly, since there were no longer any events to cater for but mid-June. I decided to introduce packed meals and the business was able to slowly pick up again. The pandemic also pushed me to launch Nourish, because I felt that people needed to be taught about healthy foods and what they consume daily,” she explained.

Zulu said that Nourish was launched for the purposes of differentiating Food by the Gift from other catering companies by promoting healthy living.

“We collaborated with Dr Pretty Mkhize, w ho isa homeopath and treats individuals by using natural medicine that have no side effects. Our products are linked to what she does and they are made of organic, raw fruit and vegetables.”

Big plans brewing

Zulu described herself as someone who gets bored easily. “At some point, I did business to catch a breather after studying. It then got to a point where I had to divide my time and work between excelling at both, so there were many sleepless nights and early mornings.”

As a firm believer, Zulu trusts that God is always there to see one through the challenges that come with running a successful business and studying. She also has much bigger plans for her business.

“I’m hoping to get a bigger space where I can operate daily and that will create more job opportunities. The number of people who approach us asking if we are hiring is high and I believe that the more staff we can get the more the business could grow. You can also expect more healthy products and city-to-city launches where we will be educating people about healthy living and promoting our products.”

In celebration of women’s month, we are featuring a number of females who have successfully discovered alternative career paths. Small-scale farmer, Minenhle Mbuyazi , has found her calling in life and couldn’t be happier as she makes waves in the agricultural world. – Health-e News