By Motlabana Monnakgotla
All Omphile Magasa knew was baking, so the 30-year-old took to it as a full-time entrepreneur, and is perhaps one of the few to have tasted success in 2020.
After losing her salaried job in 2017, Omphile Magasa had no choice but to wipe her tears and turn on the oven to bake. After all, she had to raise her daughter and had debts to pay.
Magasa, founder of Baked By Opy, was born and raised in Mabeskraal, a small village an hour’s drive away from Rustenburg in South Africa’s North West province.
At the age of seven, Magasa inherited her grandmother’s passion and skill for baking. Raised by her grandparents, the young baker remembers how she was always assigned tasks to help her ‘grandma’.
“It got to a point where I was always craving cakes; always buying pre-mix products and I remembered that I grew up in a family where we baked all the time; we know how to make cakes from scratch,” says Magasa.
In 2015, three years into her IT career, she started making biscuits and cakes to sell at work for R100 or R150 ($7 or $11) a bucket for extra cash.
Magasa was then motivated to explore her baking skills. With the help of online tutorials, she baked a cake for her daughter’s first birthday. Magasa then posted a photograph of it on her social media accounts. This caught the attention of an old school mate who wanted a customized cake too.
This was her first official client, which led to the birth of Baked By Opy.
Unfortunately, Magasa lost her full-time job at the time.
“When you get retrenched, it’s something you never really expect, you think about your debts, child support and I started looking for another job, but my partner reminded me that I’ve been baking and I was probably retrenched because I was too focused on my baking,” she laughs.
“I started baking more, I started posting more on social media because I had more time, I took on more orders and the business started growing and I turned over about R17,000 in 2016/17.”
In 2020, Magasa says she felt the pinch of the lockdown in South Africa only during alert level five. However, business picked up rapidly when she got back to baking action in May.
“Covid was a blessing in disguise….”
“My business grew bigger during the lockdown. Covid was a blessing in disguise, everyone was home, including the kids, so parents would get customized cakes. Things just started going crazy, I even employed people. When businesses were retrenching, I was hiring and I still intend on hiring more people,” she says.
Magasa also employed an accountant to balance her books.
“My accountant was telling me that it’s important I register for VAT because the business is turning over a million now.”
With the festive season in South Africa, she is receiving multiple orders.
The customized delicacies range from R750 to R19,000 ($52 to $1,300).
From selling biscuits in a bucket, to packaging Christmas desserts for companies, her business has had a sweet ending this year.