Meet Self-Taught Chef Nombini Dingela

Nombini Dingela is a 36-year-old single mother to an amazing 17-year-old boy and a self-taught chef. The loss of her father four years ago inspired her to finally take her love of cooking to the next level. Since then, Nombini has covered significant ground and received recognition as a businesswoman.

We reached out to Nombini to find out more about her entrepreneurial journey.

Who is Nombini Dingela?

I am a self-taught chef and very passionate about nutrition. I did my matric in my hometown, known as Gqeberha currently. I completed my diploma for business management and computer studies at Stanford College.

I am a creative person with an introvert personality and love spending my time listening to music, dancing, exercising and, of course, cooking up a storm.

Because I became a mother at a fairly young age, I had to quickly learn how to be responsible. My first job was at a coffee shop where I worked alongside my twin sister Lindiwe. Afterwards, I went into retail, then the financial industry, then sales before ultimately following my lifelong dream of starting my own business.

What motivated you to start your business?

The motivation came from the fact that ever since I could remember, I’ve always wanted to start a family business. Discovering my passion for creating memorable meals solidified the decision to start.

When my father passed away in 2018, I knew what I needed to do. I wanted to finally start living my truth and honour my father at the same time. Being able to start a business doing something I love, which is cooking, and being able to help communities maintain healthier eating habits is absolutely a dream come true.

Tell us more about the women empowering networking organizations you are part of.

I joined ImpactHER because I wanted to connect with different like-minded individuals and build enriching partnerships. I admire what the founder of ImpactHER, Efe, is promoting through the organization, which is helping women gain access to business opportunities, access to grants, training and free services offered by the organization.

I joined World Pulse because I love sharing about my journey in the entrepreneurial space, so to have the opportunity to write stories and motivate people not only locally but globally as well while building friendships and bonds is truly an amazing experience. I was able to write about my initiative on the World Pulse platform, which is called Sustain Healthy Eating Habits, where I’ll be teaching elderly citizens in my community tricks they can use in the kitchen so that it’s easier to maintain their nutritional eating habits.

I joined SHE Leads Africa because I wanted to sharpen my business skills, network and learn about how I can take advantage of my social media pages to help grow my business from strength to strength. It was amazing to receive recognition with the certificate of She Means Business digital marketing and financial planning programme.

I joined the Google Hustle Academy because I wanted to participate in their boot camp, where I learned some valuable skills on how to leverage and use digital tools to help grow my business.

I joined the Tony Elumelu entrepreneurship program class in 2021 because I needed funds to launch my new products. Amazingly, with hard work, I was chosen as one of the winners to receive the seed grant. Becoming a Tony Elumelu Alumnae gives me a lifetime access to their networking platform and opportunities to help empower myself and other African entrepreneurs.

I joined the Black Umbrellas because I knew in order to survive in business, I needed skills, mentorship and training, which Black Umbrellas offered to emerging businesses. Through them, I was able to register my my business on the black pages as a vendor on their supplier database.

As a finalist for the WIA54 initiative (Women in Africa Initiative), I hope to gain mentorship and an opportunity to showcase my business at a global stage, showing the world that African businesses are more than capable and women should be given more opportunities to thrive.

What is your advice to other women who want to venture into business?

My advice is that even though it might seem scary and unfamiliar or uncomfortable to start that business, do it. With hard work, tenacity, consistency and passion, the obstacles along the way won’t feel so heavy and the reward will be worth it in the end. So start now. Take it one day at a time. Be gentle with yourself, and know great things take time to build, and make sure your foundation is solid.

Which meal do you think best describes you and why?

I would say it’s a vegetable paella meal because it has so many layers and ingredients that go into it to make it a cohesive delicious meal. Each ingredient brings its own flair and character, and together they create a remarkable meal. Everything I’ve ever gone through has shaped and moulded me into who and what I am today, including the people I’ve met along my journey.

What do you think are the key principles in making it in the business world?

To be passionate, have tenacity, be consistent and have a clear vision about your “why” you’re going into business. And last but not least, be able to take calculated risks.

What are your social media handles?

Facebook: Cookingwithnombini
Instagram: cookingwithnombini
LinkedIn: Nombini Dingela

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