Bereka Mosadi! We chat to Koketso Baloyi this week. Instead of allowing poverty to define her, she rose up and started a photography and printing business. Read her inspiring story below.
I was born and raised in Mmakau, a village in Bojanala District Municipality in the North West province of South Africa. I also attended school in Mmakau at, Sekwati Primary and Malatse Motsepe High school. Upon completing my Grade 12, I went on to study National Diploma in Photography at Tshwane University of Technology.
Some of the challenges I faced involve growing up without parents. The experience was the hardest I have ever had to encounter in life. I was raised by my disabled unemployed grandmother. She had to leave her job after my mother's passing as she had to take care of my siblings and me.
Tell us about your career and inspiration behind it
Well, poverty motivated me. I remember in varsity I couldn’t afford to buy myself a camera for my assignments and this resulted in me failing badly. Then I decided to start photographing parties and events and saved money to buy equipment. From then on, I started my own photography and branding company two years ago with my older sister Tebogo Tseka. I went to her one day and I said, I’m dropping out of varsity I want to start a company showed her the paperwork and yes she invested the funds. We bought stock from China and I started running the company.
The reason I ended up dropping out on my 3rd year is due to the rape ordeal I went through while photographing a landscape assignment. I simply could not cope.
Our company photographs primary school photos and preschool graduations and one thing that sets us apart is that we do everything in-house. From photography, printing and more. Our services also include the printing of promotional materials too. We don’t have a middle man which often results in exorbitant costs. Our services are good on the wallet too.
What do you like most about yourself?
I love working with kids as I was a teenage mother myself. The joy I have when I walk into a pre-school and those kids run to hug me and ask if I'll be photographing them is precious. The memories I capture are truly amazing, even when I’m just walking on the streets some kids would call my name and that puts a smile on my face. But the most important part is seeing my son being proud of me that’s amazing and priceless.
Being a teenage mother and a single parent with no support system and having to raise a child when you're still a child yourself was quite a challenge. I had to go to school and still come back home and be a parent. In varsity I had to act like a 'tomboy' because I didn’t have all the things that other kids had. Sleeping with a hungry stomach and still wake up and go to class. And provide for your child back home. But I prayed and worked twice as hard, unfortunately dropped out and started my own business at some point.
What are some of your life highlights for you so far? What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of who I am and how far I have come. The effort I put into my work and the dedication and sleepless nights. I never realised how strong I was until the only thing I had to do was to actually be strong. I wake up and smile and still meet our clients, be rejected and still try again and again, walk long distances just to market ourselves.
What, in your opinion, are the most important factors to keep in mind to make it in your career or life in general?
Work hard and always take rejection as a lesson. Look at your flaws and transform.
Where would you like to see yourself in the next three years?
I want to open a pre-school and invest in property but the most important thing, for now, is to get my business a car so I can travel and expand my client base.
If there was anything you could do differently, what would it be?
Nothing, because everything that you do teaches you something and helps you grow. If you live in regrets you will never continue with life because you can’t undo yesterday.
Are there any specific people or organisations that you look up to and draw inspiration from and why?
Firstly, my sister Tebogo because she motivates me and never stopped believing in me. After I had a child at the age of 16, everyone thought I’m was a failure but she never did. I had family members who called me names. I remember one of my closest relatives once told me I should stop hanging out with her little sister because I was going to teach her naughty things because I have a child.
Secondly, my grandmother! That woman is my rock as disabled as she is and unemployed I don’t remember going to bed hungry growing up under her care. After I had a child she motivated me to go back to school and raised my son. I'll forever be grateful for her kindness.
Are there any inspiring projects which you’re involved in?
I’m involved in an organisation in Soshanguve, Pretoria for young mothers. We motivate them to go back to school because we realised that most teenage mothers drop out of high school after having a child. I am working closely with Maria Maphanga on this project and she is amazing to work with.
What advice would you give to others out there looking to follow in your footsteps?
Work hard and never let anyone tell you otherwise about yourself. Have faith because every disappointment is a blessing in disguise, the Lord will never show you the door to success and hand you the keys, he will show you the door and throw the keys in the jungle you must fight wild animals to find it.
How can the public contact you
Facebook: Tebogo Le Maraya Branding
Thank you for sharing your inspirational story with our community, Koketso. We wish you all the best!
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