With just R350, Pumla became a catering queen If you live in Butterworth in the Eastern Cape, you’ve probably heard of Mbuks Catering Services, the brainchild of Pumla Gobelo. With only a R350 child support grant in her pocket, Gobelo took a leap of faith and started a food business...

The fabulous foodie Pumla Gobelo started her food business in Butterworth in the Eastern Cape off the back of just R350 that she has built into a booming money spinner over the years. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi
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In 2011, Gobelo was a varsity dropout who left Vaal University of Technology in her third year of retail business management. Originally from Idutywa, she relocated to Butterworth in the Eastern Cape, and with just R350, started her catering business.

“I wanted to own a mobile kitchen but had no funds. Ten years later, boom, I bought my mobile kitchen. I love my job more than anything. I wake up every day and hustle and the feedback is always positive.”

Part of the reason Gobelo has been so successful, is that she insists on being original with the dishes she makes.

“I never mimic other people’s work. I always invent my recipes and make sure I perfect everything I touch. In most cases, I cook my cuisine over an open fire in black pots, which also distinguishes me [from others],” she says.

Right now her food business is well-known in her area, and part of that success she attributes to social media.

“With everything I have, I appreciate neatness and cleanliness. I believe that is one of the things that draws people to my cuisine.”

Down but never out

While Gobelo never attended culinary school, food and cooking have always been a passion of hers. “I always knew I wanted to be my [own] boss in the hospitality industry, so I studied in business and had a hobby on the side.”

The Covid-19 pandemic brought on many challenges and her business had to close due to regulations. “I established my brand, Mbuks Catering Services, and I had been saving all these years. I had a little amount left and Facebook friends also donated some money, so I could buy the mobile kitchen,” she says.

Ever resilient, the mother of four adds, “I promised myself that I would not be defeated by lockdown. Instead, I wanted to show off something, and that something was my lovely mobile kitchen and my brand launch.”

To read more about Pumla, click here.

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