A young Motswana woman has brought an international franchise, Young Chefs Academy (YCA), to Botswana through the financial backing of her parents.
Young Chefs Academy is an international franchise established in 2003 by Julie Burleson and Suzie Nettles in Texas, USA. The school teaches children cooking skills and baking techniques.
Gobonaone Modisane, from Ncojane and a graduate of the University of Botswana, told The Telegraph that after graduating from UB with a major in Special Education and Home Economics, she had a deep desire to work closely with children.
“I specialized in hearing and visual impairments for my major in Special Education and also took child development courses for my Home Economics minor,” she said.
Modisane reveals that, to realize her dream of working with children, she started ‘googling’ and found Young Chefs Academy in the USA. Her interest grew from them and that is when she started mailing the franchisors, indicating her interest in franchising with them.
“But all I received were automatic replies, saying they were not ready to sell at the moment. I then started saving and then flew to see them in person in 2008. I just ended up seeing the assistant and they refused me an appointment; I came back and started out,” she said. “Imagine taking to flight to America and coming back with nothing.”
She told this paper that her parents were also reluctant to help her with the P250 000 they injected into the project.
It was last year when she had already established a way forward for her project that Young Chefs Academy International contacted her and they agreed to sell.
The YCA, situated in the Village Complex, is the first culinary academy in Southern Africa that focuses primarily on child development.
“The cooking school for children affords the children the opportunity to learn the principle of cooking while building self confidence and making some improvement on the disciplines of mathematics, science, reading and social studies,” she said.
Officially opening the school last week, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Skills Development, Dr Theophilus Mooko, commended Modisane for reviving and living the spirit of self reliance.
Dr Mooko said Botswana needs people who can make it happen by creating employment opportunities for themselves and fellow Batswana, noting that Modisane currently has two other young women under her employment.
Mooko noted that the school is a shining example for all young Batswana women for them to pursue their dreams and to believe in themselves.
“I have no doubt in my mind that this distinguished academy will excel in Gaborone and in the future in our major towns around Botswana,” he said. “I strongly believe this concept will reach other countries in the SADC region.”
The school started operating on May 3 this year and currently has 20 young chefs enrolled; 8 children aged between 4-6 are in the kindercooks programme, whereas 12 children aged 7 ÔÇô 14 years are junior chefs.
Modisane said that she expects to enroll senior chefs (15-18 years) during the school holidays since that is when they will be free from school.
Modisane graduated from UB in 2008 and worked at Westwood International and Pashata in Francistown as a teacher before she started the YCA.
She aspires to open more franchises in Botswana in two years but is focused on getting more space to work.
“I want bigger space where I can operate from…if I can get two kitchens for now,” she said.