The first student

It has been so refreshing to be part of the Entrepreleaders Foundation (ELF) team and to see so many startups emerge from the ground up thanks to our various donors and sponsors. For today, we’d like to focus on the story of Aya, a young matric student from camps bay high in Cape Town just under 18 years old who was able to study Entrepreneurship through our foundation.

Aya lost his dad in 2014 and was forced to be raised by a single mom with a single source of income working as a security guard. We met Aya for the first time through one of our church outreaches in the community and right away were able to see unique leadership in him. Later on, our Founder Lucy Langard-Okenkali got in touch with him and through various exchanges he was offered the opportunity to join the foundation. In fact, his story and resilience were what confirmed the profound need for this foundation to be institutionalized. Some could say he was our very first foundation student. He was only 16 years old at the time and was therefore the youngest student with most of his peers well above the 21 years old mark. At first, we were concerned he may be intimidated by the older students but to our surprise, he showed Character, leadership and participation in a crowd where he was by far the youngest. In no time, he got accepted by the class and even contributed to helping other people grow. We knew then that we had picked the right student and wanted to find more young people like Aya to grow into their full potential.

While passionate about accounting with the dream of becoming a chartered accountant, Aya had no idea he could one day become the owner of his own business. His head was only focused on one thing:  getting a job after university to help his mom live a better life. Over a period of 6 months, Aya learnt how to think like an entrepreneur and how to become one. His favorite Expedition (module) was the one about leadership – how entrepreneurs need to equally become great leaders. From that point on, he went on to start a car and sneaker wash business that lasted 6 months. With the money he made, he was able to save up enough to help his mom buy groceries. By month 6, he identified another niche in his school: people were always looking for something to snack on. He, therefore, taught himself with the help of his best friend Simi how to bake and make a simple snack. And that’s how Cookie Monster was started; from a friend’s kitchen using their savings from the car and sneaker’s wash business, a giant cookie-making startup was launched.

Today, Cookie Monster gets orders and supplies to Camps Bay High, Molweni Coffee shop in Town CBD and Frisky GOAT in Thornton Cape Town. Find out more about Aya’s story via the video below: