Mikie Monoketsi, the Founder of Mama’s Spices and Herbs
Mikie Monoketsi was born 11 June 1978 in Kimberley, South Africa to Tswana parents Lizzy Morake and late father Daniel Monoketsi. Her father was a rep for a drinks Company and her mother was a domestic worker. Mikie was raised by her grandmother in a small two bedroom house in Galeshewe in Kimberley. Mikie grew up before Nelson Mandela became president so lived during the oppressive Apartheid regime and experienced what life was like during a time when white and black people lived separately and white men were seen to be superior.
To Mikie childhood was a happy normal life protected by her loving parents from the injustices happening in the country. She played ball games and chase with friends in the streets and has fond memories of the legendary smells emanating from her grandmother’s stove. She often helped her mother cook and enjoyed learning to make traditional African cuisine.
Life was tough as she remembers the 7km walk to school every day and being poor in South Africa was miserable at that time.
At 13 she started her first business, cooking street food for the patrons of her grandmother’s shebeen, making butterscotch and selling cigarettes and tobacco for a small markup in the community. This meant she had home-made food and taxi fare to school and back home. Her enterprising nature meant that she always had some money and helped raise the standard of living for her family.
Mikie matriculated from St Boniface High School in 1995 and was one of eight candidates chosen for a leadership training course in Stellenbosch as one of the Edmund Rice Society initiatives. Here her commitment to service and to community upliftment was developed through mentoring. She volunteered at a home for abused women and crèche in Benoni called Sizanani Community Centre, which means “let’s help each other”, before taking out a study loan and enrolling at the University of Johannesburg to study Public Relations. Of this time Mikie says “Deep in debt, I had no choice but to excel”.
The first person to graduate with a tertiary education in her family, Mikie joined Arcay Corporate Communications as an intern before moving to Integrated Communications, working herself up to a management position before moving to WesBank’s public relations and marketing department.
Married at 27 in 2005 and had a daughter Danielle now (12).
She started her own business in 2008 but it flopped because she did not have any experience. Mikie lost her home, her husband, her car, everything. In 2013 she divorced and used the pain and anguish as her driving force to try again.
She left the marriage with nothing but the clothes she wore and turned to food, the passion she realized by her grandmother’s stove as a child, and began developing healthy recipes and educating locals of the benefits of ‘cooking fresh’. She meticulously researched the health food market and found the opening to develop health supplements using some of the plants, herbs and spices she grew up with in her grandmother’s kitchen.
Mikie lost friends to heart disease and diabetes and saw an opportunity in the increasing number of lifestyle diseases amongst South African people caused by poor diet and lack of exercise. Mikie realized that South Africans needed “a complete mindset shift on nutrition”. Traditionally poor people eat predominantly refined carbohydrates and fast food loaded with salt, fat and sugar. Mikie says “Most people choose filling meals which fail to fuel their bodies and brain”. Researching ingredients in commonly used spices, she discovered that many are poor quality with high levels of MSG, preservatives additives and bulking agents.
Mama’s Spices and Herbs launched to offer consumers good quality, natural ingredients without any preservatives, additives or colourants. Mikie discovered ancient secrets to health and wellbeing, known for centuries to alleviate medical conditions and help improve the body’s functioning. This led to the development of the FLAT STOMACH TEA range of products.
Mama’s Spices and Herbs has become an international brand. Mikie has empowered and educated thousands of people in rural communities, helping them make better lifestyle choices and reduce disease. She has developed a network of distributors throughout South Africa and into neighbouring countries, all of whom run sustainable businesses and have transformed their lives and gained financial independence. She runs regular entrepreneurship workshops to inspire and motivate others to become self-employed and is a sought after motivational speaker. She gives back generously to communities.
Mikie is currently building her mother a house to help her out of poverty using the success she had from her business. She appears on the YOTV programme, SABC1 on Saturdays 8am with her transformation workout routine where 5 million people get physical in front of the TV to get in shape.
Now she is collaborating with global Companies to export her brand and product to the United Kingdom and America marking the beginning of a new chapter in the life of Mikie Monoketsi. She has become an ambassador for black women all around the world.