When Mpho Cornelius opened her first business, a laundromat for locals in Mothibistad on the outskirts of Kuruman, she had no idea what lay ahead.
Community members soon began using the extra land where her business was located to work on their art – and while they were working, they wanted to eat and drink.
This is how The Workshop ko Kasi, Cornelius’ brainchild, was created.
As building materials were scarce, Cornelius used what she had on hand.
She only chose – and continues to choose – locals to help with building to create jobs and income for community members.
Once she started generating an income, she decided that the workshop would become a fully functional, eco-friendly restaurant that serves African food and drinks.
Cornelius’ vision is to be the pioneer in developing the rural Kuruman community through art and tourism while operating in an environmentally sustainable way.
The Workshop ko Kasi gives visitors the opportunity to sleep under the stars and feast on local African cuisine.
Local, national and even international travellers have stopped by to experience this tourist hub.
The Workshop has won various awards in the tourism industry, such as the Lilizela award for best emerging tourism entrepreneur of the year in 2017, as well as the Lilizela award for best visitor experience in roots, culture and lifestyle in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Then the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.
“We went into lockdown like everyone else in March 2020. Initially, we thought it would only be for 21 days. We didn’t know what was to come,” said Cornelius.
Yet neither she nor her staff saw the lockdown as an excuse to be idle; they soon began helping the community with food parcels and adapted to survive.
“We introduced our delivery service in May. Although it worked well at first, it wasn’t sustainable in the long run,” Cornelius said.
The tourism industry took a devastating blow and Cornelius, like many business owners, suffered the consequences.
She and her remaining staff went to the workshop almost every day to make sure the grounds were ready for when they could get back to work.
They reopened their doors late last year.
“The restaurant is open and the venue has recently become operational. The camping site is also running,” said Cornelius.
According to a patron and member of the community, one can immediately see that The Workshop ko Kasi is something special.
“It’s not just a restaurant – it’s a place where anybody can come to be in a creative space. It’s a visual representation of the heartbeat of the community. Mpho doesn’t just profit from it; she creates jobs and gives artists a platform to showcase their work.”
- The Workshop ko Kasi is located on Buitekant Street in Mothibistad.
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