The Kuruman-based winner of the 2017 provincial Lilizela Awards, Workshop ko Kasi, is ready and confident to take on the country through striving for the best ecotourism outlet.The Workshop ko Kasi currently houses a book and coffee shop, an African Spa and a laundromat.The founder of the workshop in Mothibistad, Mpho Cornelius (27), is confident with her product and expects to become a trendsetter. with the confidence in their product as it is something that is not yet popular within the market. The establishment also won the provincial leg of the emerging tourism entrepreneur of the year award (Eteya) and the visitor experience: culture and lifestyle award in Upington on Monday, 18 September. Express Northern Cape chatted with Cornelius ahead of the national Lilizela Awards Ceremony to be held on Sunday (29/10), she boasts with Workshop ko Kasi’s capability of sticking to authentic African experiences and ‘nothing is staged. Are you originally from Kuruman? Yes, I was born in a township called Mothibistad, which I am passionate about. Are there any other shareholders or partners on board? Yes, I have recently gotten into a strategic partnership with Phenyo Nkoi, who is an entrepreneur in his own right, to achieve a greater social and economic impact. Dr. Sechaba Maape is the architect of our unique buildings that are made out of recycled and natural materials. How do you feel about being the provincial winner of the Lilizela Awards? I was very excited. I did not quite expect it, considering the fact that we have only been trading for a short period of time. Winning was a reassurance that we are on the right track. When was Workshop ko Kasi established? Late in 2016, although some aspects were only added this year. How did you come up with this business idea? I saw the need for socio-economic change in the region and wanted to instil a local pride through tourism. How many people have the establishment empowered on a temporary and permanent basis? Altogether ten people, along with many other small businesses that we work with. Has your business gained the recognition that you expected? It has exceeded my expectation. We have had quite a number of local and international visitors, and have received publicity from local and national media channels. What are your expectations in the national leg of the awards? Being the provincial winner for two categories, the emerging tourism entrepreneur of the year award (Eteya) and the visitor experience: culture and lifestyle award, is amazing. Winning any of the national awards will just be a big cherry on top. We want the Northern Cape to compete at the national level and eventually have a world-class standard. What challenges have you overcome, being a business owner in Kuruman? I have unlocked opportunities. Entrepreneurs have the power to develop their communities for big social, economical, cultural and environmental impacts. I have also created employment and culture preservation and increased tourist arrivals. Access to markets for other small businesses and Promoting local pride through recycling and reusing is a big priority through examplary education on taking care of the environment and it’s people. What do you think can make your establishment stand out against your competition at national level? We offer authentic African experiences – nothing is staged. We are introducing eco-tourism in the townships. Although eco-tourism is something that is not yet popular, we want to be the trendsetters. This is the future of a sustainable economy. What would you say to fellow entrepreneurs or your peers about the fact that Kuruman is still faced by such a high rate of poverty and unemployment? Just do it. Do not procrastinate. Follow your passions and dreams and do it so well that you do not have to chase the money – it will bring itself in. Have you ever won any awards before? Yes, the young women in business award.