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DDespite its scenic landscape and being home to the Eye of Kuruman (a wondrous natural spring known as one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere), Kuruman in the Northern Cape is not often the first place that one thinks of when we speak about tourism in South Africa.
Mpho Molema, a native of Mothibistad township in Kuruman, defies this status quo through The Workshop ko Kasi”, an eco-tourism and creative hub offering authentic African experiences to visitors from all over the world.
Molema founded “The Workshop ko Kasi” after spending five years working in the tourism industry in Johannesburg – ‘the city of gold’ many young people run to in hopes of a better life - and coming to the realisation that her ‘gold’ was back home in Kuruman.
She returned home and started the business The Workshop ko Kasi in 2016 in the same yard that housed her father’s mechanic and panel beaters workshop.
“My dad was a mechanic and has always been a businessman as far as I can remember. Dad bought me boy toys like cars and took me to work with him at his workshop where I discovered how to work with my hands and use spanners and screwdrivers and always find solutions where none seem to exist. The name of my business, The Workshop ko Kasi, emanated from his line of business. We also loved receiving guests at our home, and I learnt how to be hospitable from an early age, ensuring guests were always offered food or tea,” she says
Molema took a very limited budget and a passion for unboxed projects and used this to build the multi award-winning tourism business. The Workshop ko Kasi truly is a hub in that it offers a variety of services such as a cultural restaurant, conferencing facilities, as well as unique experiential tours which include camping the traditional seTswana way; and a creative hub which supports local artists and hosts events such as social markets, storytelling, and community-building projects.
However, what truly makes the establishment special is how thoughtfully creativity, community, sustainability, and entrepreneurship meet in the space.
“Mixing kasi/township tourism with sustainability is unique in the sense that sustainability and being green is usually seen as a luxurious thing and not so popular for black people. But we are selling a tourism experience that challenges that narrative.” Molema explains.
The result of this challenge is an off-grid green establishment that has eco-buildings made from natural and recycled material. Essentially “The Workshop ko Kasi” invites you to experience culture, art, food, hospitality, and creative entrepreneurship in a rural township in a responsible and sustainable manner, which is a truly unique offering.
Molema believes that travellers are looking for authentic African experiences saying,
“The story of showcasing only poor tourism in townships is quite outdated because so many have become Entrepreneurs interested in innovation and growth and quality.
COVID19 has [also] taught me not only to be ready for change, but to embrace it by being innovative and not afraid of big risks. We have become a resilient establishment in a tough tourism industry.”