While many businesses closed down in 2020 due to tough operating conditions that were only compounded by COVID-19 restrictions, Kgaditse Prestige Events (KPE), which operates the canteen at Khanye Colliery, in Bronkhorstspruit, successfully navigated its inaugural year.
KPE, a local black, women-owned catering company, opened the canteen in January 2020. The establishment of the canteen formed part of an enterprise development initiative, which saw the appointment of Bronkhorstspruit local businesswomen Angy Kgaditse (25) and Joyce Kgaditse (46), who are the co-directors of KPE.
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In its first year, the canteen has hired 4 local community members and served the over 300 employees and personnel at Khanye Colliery’ with more than 1 000 meals a month.
“COVID-19 brought life and most businesses, including ours, to an unprecedented standstill. As a small business, we were highly affected as we had to temporarily shut down due to the restrictions of the pandemic.
“Unlike other sectors, we faced a significant challenge because we had no capacity to work from home, this meant weeks of no income,” Angy recounts.
However, she points out that through the financial literacy and guidance that KPE continuously receives from Canyon Coal, they were able to tap into their savings and operate again when the restrictions were relaxed.
“We understood that we had to use this time to leverage and deepen relationships with our customers by making the canteen feel like a safe spot,” Angy explains.
Collaboration and adaptation steers canteen through trying time
With support from Canyon Coal the canteen was able to overcome this challenging period. The mine provided KPE with personal protective equipment (PPE) which included masks, gloves and hand sanitizers.
“Our team attended daily toolbox talks where we were provided with COVID-19 infection control training that covered the fundamentals of infections, prevention and control of COVID-19.”
KPE was provided with signs and posters that were posted around the canteen to remind workers about the risks of COVID-19 and the measures that are necessary to stop its spread.
“Even though food safety and hygiene practices are not new to our catering business, we however had to implement all these new measures which included wearing of masks, sanitizing equipment and surfaces, and practicing social distancing,” Angy notes.
The canteen had to adapt and promote safe work practices, consistent with advice from the health and safety authorities at the mine, to ensure the canteen was ready for the social distancing and exemplary hygiene measures that were an important part of the transition.
Angy highlights that the pandemic has caused a lot of economic uncertainty which affected how customers spend their money.
“We are grateful that we have managed to have a successful year despite the challenges. We look forward to more growth and making more revenue in the next year. Most importantly, we look forward to continuing to meet the dietary needs and requests of staff at Khanye,” Angy states.
Canyon Coal Procurement Manager Carmia Pretorius adds, “We are delighted that this enterprise development initiative has been so successful to date.
“Angy and her team have had to overcome a difficult year, but it has been fantastic to see how they have adapted so quickly and continued to provide an important service to our staff members.”