Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Senior Reporter
WHILE Covid-19 restrictions forced many people to go for months without sumptuous meals from restaurants, the stressful period also gave birth to YoMo’s Gourmet Bites, run by probably Bulawayo’s youngest businesspersons.
YouTube videos were all that 12-year-old Yoliswa and her twin brother Mondli Masuku needed to hone their baking skills which later developed into a business.
When Covid-19 hit hard, they could no longer enjoy their favourite meals from local outlets which prompted them to make their own with the help of their mother – a local people development consultant Nontokozo Masuku.
Their creative juices soon took over and before they knew it, they were trying out a number of cookie recipes which then gave them an idea to start their own business.
The twins sold their first packet of 12 cookies on February 1 this year and they have never looked back.
Chronicle caught up with the twins who are in Grade Six at a local school who were happy to share their journey and love for baking.
Their cookies cost a minimum of US$3.
The self-taught cookie masters have four products on offer so far which include Chocolate Crunchies, Chocolate Tops, Choc Chip Cookies and Chocolate Balls.
“We have always loved cooking and tasty food and in 2019 when we were nine, we used to have a cooking club with our mother and we enjoyed it. Last year at the beginning of lockdown when we couldn’t eat or order our favourite food, we decided to start making our own pizza, tacos, cakes, cookies et cetera,” said Yoliswa.
“We got some recipe books and watched YouTube videos and taught ourselves to bake. We then found a cookie recipe that we loved and changed a few things to suit us before asking a few family members to taste the cookies.
They loved them and suggested we start selling them and the rest is history.”
From then the twins have been selling their cookies to friends and family.
“We then decided to start a business and brand it. We sat down with our parents and together came up with the name YoMo’s which is an abbreviation for our names Yoliswa and Mondli and then got a designer to design our logo,” she added.
Mondli said they are aiming at becoming the leading provider of gourmet bake treats and eats.
“We want to make and supply homemade treats that are tasty, attractive and special, treats that can be enjoyed by the whole family. We use chocolate as our main ingredient for flavouring because we know it can easily put a smile on people’s faces and makes the ordinary seem extraordinary and special. This is in line with our mantra – ‘Make every day special’,” said Mondli.
He said besides baking, he also enjoys swimming, soccer, traveling with family, creating characters and writing stories, cooking, learning about animals and seeing them, reading about planets, branding and coming up with concepts for special events.
His sister enjoys sports, agriculture, planting, nurturing and seeing plants grow and finally harvesting the fruit at the end of the day, painting, baking particularly things with chocolate and dancing.
“I love writing stories and creating characters and YoMo’s is writing my own story because I believe in our God-given potential and I know that we too are able to make our own money, as young as we are,” he said.
To their peers, Mondli said, “If you want to start a business ask God to help you come up with the idea and to help you with the business. Having a business isn’t easy because we have other things to do such as school and sometimes there is a lot of pressure in getting things right and perfect for customers.”
He added: “Despite the pressure we are in business because we love what we do, enjoy making people happy and hearing them say they love our cookies, we want to make our own money. So, people should not be afraid to do what they love or give up when the face challenges.”
The twins have also taken it upon themselves to serve the Bulawayo community using funds from their business which they hope to grow in the near future.
So far, they have managed to cook and share meals with the less privileged and together with their parents, they visit the sick and bereaved families.
“We both care for animals and very passionate about preserving our environment for future generations,” said Yoliswa.
YoMo’s is working on establishing their online store and orders can be made on +263776592190. — @thamamoe