Women’s Month: Young entrepreneur shows hard work and determination do pay

Tracey Mbuli has become a pioneer with her burgers and fries. Picture: Supplied Scoop

Tracey Mbuli has become a pioneer with her burgers and fries. Picture: Supplied Scoop

Published Aug 25, 2022


Cape Town - “Victory loves preparation” is the mantra this young entrepreneur lives by, and the success is evident.

Tracey Mamolefe Mbuli, 28, originally of Polokwane, resides in Johannesburg and is the founder of DiChips, established in 2020.

DiChips is a successful fast food business that specialises in chips and burgers and has pop-up stalls across the city. It employs three people.

She even has bookings at events lined up for the rest of the year.

The self-motivator and astute hustler is a solutions analyst at a media company and holds a certificate in business analysis, a BCom in business management, and BCom (Hons) in business management.

Tracey Mbuli has become a pioneer with her burgers and fries. Picture: Supplied Scoop

While she may be living her best life now, things did not always come easy for the single mother.

“Early on as a primary school pupil, I was everyone’s go-to person because of my networking skills. I knew almost everyone in the school. I was in Northern Academy in Polokwane back then and it was here that people started saying I was destined to be a businesswoman,” she explained.

Mbuli said this pushed her and she dreamed of becoming a businesswoman and pursuing studies in commerce. However, things did not pan out as planned.

She did not achieve the results needed to register at the university of her choice, so she moved to another province to take an extended course that allowed her to enrol with the marks she obtained so she could do the course she wanted.

Tracey Mbuli has become a pioneer with her burgers and fries. Picture: Supplied Scoop

“I was told to study something that I could qualify for, but my fighting spirit wouldn’t settle for just anything. My eye was focused on my goal, so I decided to travel to the University of Limpopo. With grace, luck, and a few disheartening challenges, I was accepted into the BCom degree I wanted and furthermore, also awarded top student in my degree,” Mbuli said.

However, three years into her studies at the age of 21, she fell pregnant.

“My parents decided to revoke my monthly allowance, which meant I had to act like a mom and not a girl any more. I decided to use the last allowance I had to buy second-hand clothes in Johannesburg CBD and sell them at school. This gave me some financial freedom, and I quickly learnt to be independent and take care of myself,” she said.

Tracey Mbuli has become a pioneer with her burgers and fries. Picture: Supplied Scoop

As a young mother completing her studies, Mbuli started a small informal food market, House of Eden, which became popular among students. She continued this until she completed her Honours degree.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Mbuli faced many challenges, such as losing her grandmother and being retrenched.

The single mother said she picked herself up and used the little money she had to start her food business again.

“This meant working with what I had, and I made it work for me.”

Tracey Mbuli has become a pioneer with her burgers and fries. Photo: Supplied Scoop

With the help of family, Mbuli was able to purchase equipment and other essentials to get the ball rolling.

With a simple burger and chips, which she elevated with a delectable and generous amount of toppings, DiChips soon grew into a formidable business.

“I was event focused and wanted permanent property to meet the demands of people wanting more of the food. I had to sell from home at times in order to serve people that wanted food during the week because events are mostly on weekends.

“While in the process of finding a property to house my business permanently, my aunt, Julia Thobakgale, forwarded me an advert calling for applications for a work readiness programme at Afrika Tikkun Services,” Mbuli said.

She applied to the programmed and enrolled in the Global Skills Initiative programme offered.

Through this programme with Afrika Tikkun Services, she attained qualifications in project management, data analysis, customer service, IT administration and software development. Mbuli recently completed the work readiness programme.

She said her recent success was credited to Afrika Tikkun Services for her opportunity to work under its small business incubation programme.

Mbuli urged other entrepreneurs to reach out to skills and youth development programmes such as Afrika Tikkun Services.

Mbuli said her son, 6, remains her main source of motivation.

“My son and family are so proud of me, and they’ve been walking this journey with me from day one. He always motivated me to push my business, career and personal goals,” she said.

Mbuli said she hopes to inspire other women to follow their dreams and not dare settle for second best. She ended off with a quote from Charles Dudley Warner: “What small potatoes we all are, compared with what we might be.”

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