Cheryl Govender still remembers putting on her running shoes to make her way to suppliers to pick up goods for her then up-and-coming bakery, back when she had no car. Govender had opened a small home industries business in 2012 out of desperation after the college she was teaching at stopped offering her cake decorating course. She described the early days as tough, saying she would often feel hopeless because of the lack of orders and the financial strain she was under. But business steadily grew in the next few years, and this week Govender (49), affectionately known as a “celebrity baker” in Pietermaritzburg, felt vindication after scooping an individual award at the Standard Bank KZN Top Women in Business 2019. She was recognised in “The Courage to Realise a Dream” category, and was one of six women, out of a total of 63 who had been recognised, to get an individual award. Her business, The Cake House, is now a major player on the local culinary scene and it has baked elaborate cakes for major corporate clients.“I feel blown away. I am lost for words,” Govender told The Witness on Thursday. “It was amazing to win in a room full of esteemed women. “We won because of passion, perseverance, dedication and commitment to the food industry.”Govender, who is a self-taught cake artist and who always had a passion for baking, said the award would put Pietermaritzburg on the map. “It is a huge accolade and I dedicate it to the food industry. It’s not an easy industry, but it’s rewarding and there is a market out there if you’re willing to work hard. “I still remember filling in my first invoice for a chocolate cake, which I charged R50 for. I was fuelled by faith and sustained by hope, and I wanted to better my children’s lives. “This award shows it’s possible for a small home industry to become big, and I hope it’s encouragement to others that they can pursue their skills. I pursued my passion.“I hope it’s a symbol of hope for women, especially those abused and single mothers.”She hoped it would also show young people who are still deciding what to do with their lives that there are other options apart from traditional university degrees. All 63 women recognised by Standard Bank were given a painted portrait. All are profiled in a table-top book. Govender received her award at a ceremony in Durban on Wednesday night.