Keep on Keeping on (KOKO for short): This is the motto that keeps Michelle Maluqua going, regardless of tough times and difficult circumstances. Better known as Mich, Michelle is the founder of MJ Events and Hiring in Klapmuts in the Western Cape.

Michelle is also a participant in the Nedbank-funded Ranyaka Building Business programme, where the support she has received to date includes training across multiple aspects of running a business, marketing support, registration on local business directories and networks and ongoing mentorship. A particular highlight for Michelle was her admission (as a result of her involvement in the Building Business programme) to the Stellenbosch University’s Small Business Academy where she was nominated Best Student for 2020.

Here is Michelle’s story…

Dream big

Michelle grew up on a farm in Klapmuts. “My parents did not earn much, but they were the first entrepreneurs that I looked up to,” says Michelle. “My mom and dad started delivering food parcels on nearby farms and bought their very first vehicle (in cash), got me through school and a tertiary education through their hard work and dedication.” Her dad always believed that Michelle would one day be a great leader and run her own company.

The dream for this venture started when Michelle was unemployed in 2012 and had to take some time to delve deep and think hard about her life. “I made a conscious decision to never relive the suffering of not knowing where my next meal will come from.” After years of planning and saving, MJ Events and Hiring finally opened its doors in 2018.

Transforming ideas into reality

Michelle always knew that she was destined for great things. “I have a marketing diploma with 11 years of work experience in marketing, sales and media. I’m currently studying at the Stellenbosch University’s Business School (USB) on the Small Business Academy (SBA) programme.”

Transforming ideas into reality is what her company is all about. From catering and décor for children’s parties, corporate events, weddings, engagements, baby showers and funerals to hiring out a range of decorative items and event necessities, MJ Events and Hiring aspires to meet a wide variety of event needs.

“Our team of 10 works hard to ensure that every event is super-special. We are known for leaving guests speechless,” says Michelle. “Our clients really inspire us so much – we live to give them the best and to always go the extra mile.”

Michelle’s short-term goal is to buy a bakkie (small truck/van) to enable them to grow the business by being able to take on more work and bigger projects. “Our long-term goal is to buy land and build our very own events shop where we will hold training workshops for the youth once a month as well,” she says.

About Covid-19?

“This has been the worst challenge that we have ever encountered. We lost all revenue as we had to refund our clients due to cancellations,” she says. The team tried to keep their income stream going by selling food parcels and selling takeaway meals. Michelle also taught herself how to make beaded necklaces and earrings.

Michelle says that she has hope for the future of South Africa because organisations like Ranyaka and corporates such as Nedbank are “making small entrepreneurs trend like never before”. “When you support small businesses you’re not just supporting someone’s dream, but creating new opportunities that will grow our country’s economy and decrease poverty,” she says.

Advice to fellow entrepreneurs?

“I believe in Keep on Keeping on even when every plan fails. Never quit – keep starting over until you get to the top!”

Klapmuts is one of 13 communities that is part of Nedbank‘s Proud of my Town initiative. One of ten programmes being implemented with the support of Proud of my Town, is that of Building Business