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From dish washer to cake boss extraordinaire

The national lockdown cost Davy Tsopo his job as a dishwasher at a Johannesburg restaurant, but his time spent at home watching pay TV after a neighbour generously shared their password was not wasted… far from it! 

The neighbour shared his password so Tsopo, 35, could at least watch TV to take his mind off his money troubles. But Tsopo gained so much more in the process – the inspiration to start his own business. 

The many hours spent watching reality baking programmes like Cake Boss resulted in him setting up his own cake-baking business and earning double his previous salary, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reports. 

In between helping his wife care for the couple’s newborn son, Tsopo would jot down recipes for delicious cakes. Soon he had a notebook filled with recipes and was able to start experimenting in the kitchen he shares with four other families living in his block of flats. 

Former colleagues, neighbours and other good Samaritans lent support and Cakey by Davy was off to a flying start. Even South Africans living abroad began ordering cakes for family back home.

Cakey by Davy now has more than 1,000 Instagram followers and Tsopo bakes at least 10 cakes a week. Working from home also means he can also spend time with his young son, Travis, now nine months old.

Millions of people in South Africa have lost their jobs or much of their income as a result of the effect of coronavirus lockdown measures on the economy. The impact has been especially hard on immigrants like Tsopo, who hails from Zimbabwe.

“My former boss called me when he saw my company getting attention and said he’s sorry he wasted my time. I told him he hadn’t, everything happens for a reason, and losing my job as a cleaner was my blessing in disguise,” Tsopo said.

“I don’t want to lie to you, I was so stressed when I lost my job, but I have never had that begging mind. I wanted to start my own thing and be my own boss.” 

Originally from Bulawayo, Tsopo is one of an estimated 600,000 Zimbabweans living in South Africa.

“The economic hardships in Zimbabwe are too tough,” he said. “Jobs are scarce. I had no choice but to join the great trek to South Africa.” 

Tsopo was amazed by the goodwill received for his fledgling business. 

A friend designed his logo, another helped him enter a competition in which he won a laptop, a neighbour donated baking tins and one of his new cake customers gave him IT lessons. An anonymous well-wisher even delivered a WiFi router to his home, all of which helped to set him on his path to success.

Tsopo dreams of opening his own bakery one day; a place where customers will also be able to have coffee while placing their cake orders. 

“Imagine, one day I may be asking people to send in their CVs to work at my own bakery. Then I’ll be the real cake boss.”


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