A dream does not die, and after many years, it can still become a reality, according to Polokwane bakery owner James Thobakgale. Thobakgale started baking with his grandmother as a child in 2008. Twelve years later, his business, Batho bakgale Bakery, started trading from Ga-Dikgale. “My grandmother was a domestic worker and she learned many skills during her days working, one of which was baking. One day she approached me and asked me to join her in selling baked goods in the neighbourhood,” he told Vutivi News.
“However, we could not continue anymore due to certain unforeseen challenges.” Thobakgale got back into the kitchen in 2019 when he started baking at home. “I saw how there was a gap in the villages which did not have a bakery, and I took the opportunity with both hands,” he explained. His bakery, which employs six people, makes cakes, buns, scones, muffins, bread, biscuits and rusks.
Thobakgale, who is enamoured with the baking process, said his favourite tasty treat was bran muffins. “I love it because it is very healthy and is packed with nutritional value and it is as healthy as brown bread.” Even though his favourite is bran muffins, the residents of Ga-Dikgale prefer his bread above all the other baked goods. “People love our bread because of the quality, the taste and the size of the bread,” he said.
The bakery supplies Ga-Dikgale and its surrounding areas. But it has not been an easy journey for Thobakgale, who said running a business in a rural area was difficult because of the location and the mentality of the residents. “Villagers here don’t believe that they are part of the economy and that they contribute to the economy,” he said.
“The more I try to raise the price of goods due to inflation, the more difficult it is for them to afford the products, so I end up reducing my prices so that they can buy my products. “We also struggle to purchase a stock because we live very far from town, but I overcome this by getting my suppliers to deliver the stock to me whenever they are making their supplier runs in my area,” Thobakgale explained.
His dream is to franchise his bakery in other areas where he can create employment.