“Representation matters because you need to see the physical manifestation of your dream” — Viola Davis

Eunice Maeshibe Marema



Organisation / Company

Maeshibe Coffee


One wouldn’t expect a major in the South African Defence Force to be a barista, but that is exactly what Maeshibe Marema is. The major is also an entrepreneur who started Maeshibe Coffee, which roasts, packages and distributes coffee.

She is also the officer responsible for diplomatic liaison with other military chiefs in all Southern African Development Community member states and has been with the military in various positions including being a combat trainer. Maeshibe, 35, says she is motivated by knowing that many girls and young women see it’s possible to succeed in a male-dominated environment. She fell in love with coffee as a child because it was offered to visitors and gave a sense of belonging.

Her entrepreneurial spirit was sparked by learning from her mother, who grows and sells vegetables. Maeshibe started selling tomatoes door-to-door at a young age. Maeshibe, who grew up in Zebediela in Limpopo, says she knew poverty and wanted to create something that gives back. Maeshibe Coffee employs deaf baristas and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. She says starting a business requires dedication and discipline, which she learnt from her 14 years of experience in the military.


  • Advanced Diploma in Administration Management, Tshwane University of Technology
  • Postgrad Diploma in Business Administration, Tshwane University of Technology (TUT).
  • Master’s degree in Governance and Management (ongoing), University of the Witwatersrand University School of Governance
  • Feminism Theories, Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute


During our first hard lockdown 2020, I volunteered to use my company, Maeshibe Coffee, to serve free coffee to more than 10 000 security officials (South African Police Service, defence force soldiers and traffic officers) who were were deployed to enforce Covid-19 regulations and on roadblocks in Gauteng. I applied and received permission from the chief of the then South African National Defence Force, General S.Z Shoke, and received an appreciation certificate for this month-long project.

Rolling out a project of this nature, during a global pandemic, where everyone was uncertain about the future, I learnt and was exposed to the reality of how unequal our societies are. I was grateful to have contributed my support to the nation through coffee that we brewed every morning and night with my team and served our essential workers.


I have not had any formal mentorship but I have people that I look up to on a daily basis. My minister of defence, Mme Thandi Modise is one of them. She leads a portfolio that is not easy yet she leads it well.