Ambitious youth seeks to kill two birds with one stone

’MASENTLE MAKARA

BLOEMFONTEIN – Rets'epile Angel Gloria Mokopu seems to be successfully defying age-old counsel, which discourages people from trying to hit two birds with one stone by pursuing business while studying. “You don’t necessarily need to overload your mind about business ideas because some people already came up with those ideas before us. All you need to do is for you to use the ideas already there for your benefit.”

Mokopu, only 19, is currently taking after her mother who sells beauty products which already helps her meet some of her needs in South Africa where life is more expensive and challenging for a tertiary student from another country. Business Eye had a chat with Mokopu to find out how she juggles her entrepreneurial interests amidst the demands of grueling studies.

BE: Who is Mokopu?

RAGM: I am hustler and an entrepreneur and I believe my heart pumps business instead of blood.

BE: Did anything from your childhood contribute to where you are today?

RAGM: I was born in Maseru, at the Maseru Private Hospital and was raised in the same district at Maseru West but later move to the family’s new house at Ha-Abia. I'm the last-born of my mother, Makamohelo Mokopu and I come after an elder sister. I attended SOS Primary School for which I really thank God because it contributed immensely to my foundation. It moulded me into a very bright person.

For high school, I went to Hoerskool Christiaan De Wet in Dewetsdorp, Free State. It was also not a bad choice because that's where I learnt that life is about your hustle and that you have to work harder if you want to succeed.I always believed that my parents had brought me to boarding school for a reason.

Some days I'd go to school with nothing and when I call my mom she'd say, "Rets'epile I am not going to send you any more money, you have to learn to use money wisely." Then I would borrow money from my best friend and start selling sweets. From the profits I would buy the things I needed and would initially have asked my mom to buy for me.

BE: What are you studying currently and where?

RAGM: I'm studying for a diploma in information technology at the Central University of Technology and I currently sell beauty products, such as lipsticks, Avro Shlein Products, etc.

BE: How did your business idea come about?

RAGM: I was sitting one day watching TV when I saw a lot of beauty products being advertised and noticed that almost everyone is really keen to look and feel beautiful. I started brainstorming and realized I could make some money if I started contributing to beauty. I have always had passion for beauty and also helping people in different ways.

BE: Is there anyone who inspired you to have a business in your family?

RAGM: Yes, my mother because she used to sell Justine products and owned a big shop. When I was a little girl, my mom used to tell me I was gifted and was born a businesswoman and that I should never forget that.

BE: Are you sponsored by the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS)?

RAGM: No, my parents pay for my tertiary education.

BE: Given the exacting demands of tertiary education, how do you balance school and business?

RAGM: I do my schoolwork at school and business on the side. I work with orders, which means I have a specific day when I deliver all the orders to customers. They order through the phone or during my free days such as holidays. I go around holding meetings with people to let them know about what I do, so it really doesn't interrupt my studies.

BE: What challenges do you encounter in this business?

RAGM: This business is not a stable and well-known enterprise so it can really be challenging because sometimes when you try to sell products to a prospective customer they might think you're dodgy or you sell fake products or you are just going to chow their money and disappear. People sometimes think that you sell stuff that you yourself would not use. And sometimes they think you're joking or you stole the products from somewhere. The major challenge in this type of business is earning people’s trust.

BE: Despite all the challenges you come across, what or who is the pillar of your strength.

RAGM: I'm a very young, talented lady who strongly believes in God Almighty and that everything is done in His name. I go to World Wide Miracle Church of Jesus Christ in Bloemfontein and Salvation Church of Christ where I was born again, in Lesotho. I believe God is our pillar of strength; it's not about the church you go to but it's about your relationship with God, which will take you places.

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