Using business as a catalyst for social and economic impact
Lesego Serolong (33) is the founder and CEO of Bokamoso Foods, a food processing and supply company creating sustainable income and jobs in rural communities. Prior to launching Bokamoso Foods, Lesego completed a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Social Policy and Development at The London School of Economics (LSE) and a BA in International Studies at the City College of New York.
Lesego is also the founder and chairwoman of Raise the Children, a registered non-profit company. Raise the Children identifies self-motivated orphans from impoverished and rural communities and mobilizes resources for these children to gain access to high school scholarships that unleash their potential for gainful employment and service leadership. Lesego, having lost both parents by the age of 14, always knew the latent potential lying in the hearts and minds of orphans in rural villages and helps uncover these “diamonds in the dust”. Mission-aligned people like Lesego’s late mentor, Mama Ruth Mompati, would travel with her to help identify orphans for scholarships in deep rural areas for Raise the Children, teaching Lesego much about the sacrifice and servant leadership required for transformation.
Lesego is a social entrepreneur who believes deeply in the power of innovation and enterprise to uplift South Africans, especially those in rural areas. She is a serial social entrepreneur and policy advisor, 2019 Tutu Fellow, Standard Bank’s Top Women of the Year in Agriculture (2017), and recipient of the Presidential Trail Blazer Award (2017).
After graduating from the London School of Economics, Lesego returned to South Africa to focus on creating job opportunities for the youth in rural and remote areas where employment opportunities are scarce, focusing on gaps and opportunities in the agri-value chain. Lesego established Bokamoso Foods in 2017 after getting Raise the Children off the ground. Bokamoso Foods is a proud, pioneering brand that is among the few black-owned tea and coffee manufacturing and packaging companies in South Africa, with capabilities in grocery and other dry goods supply. Bokamoso offers a comprehensive range of tea and coffee products manufactured and packaged in-house, with customized solutions to help clients save money and improve quality of their products. Bokamoso Foods supplies mainly to institutional clients such as restaurants, hotels, canteens, mines, prisons and corporations. Bokamoso is a 100% black female owned business with a current Level 1 BEE rating. Over the last two years, Bokamoso expanded into the honey value chain, sourcing honey, propolis and wax from proudly South African farmers including our own previously disadvantaged farmers in the North West and moving this product to market. Bokamoso aims to be a leading, world class manufacturer and service provider.
Bokamoso’s factory is based in the rural village of Taung (NW). Being in the heart of a rural village, we continue to witness the social and economic impact we are catalyzing in the local community where all our employees walk to work! As a SME, it hasn’t been an easy journey and as one of the creditors of SAA we’ve pressed on while trying to preserve jobs. Our goal is to scale our factory operations and establish packaging facilities in rural areas across South Africa closer to mining towns.