Threatened with life-changing situations, in the name of family, Shivani Nagiah overcame them all … and now she owns the very first Africaz franchise in Jozi.
Shivani Nagiah’s life journey has allowed her to remain humble, focus on prayer and be the anchor her family needs her to be … which is fitting, considering she battled against all odds for her family.
Now this mum and business mogul is instilling a sense of family in her recently opened Africaz Chicken store in Midrand … but to fully understand how she got to this familycentric point, you really need to know how she fought against – and won – a tremendous battle for her family.
Just nine weeks after Shivani fell pregnant in 2011, she suffered complications that she, along with the doctors, believed would lead to a miscarriage.
‘Doctors wanted to prepare me for a D&C [dilation and curettage], but when we did the ultrasound we heard a heartbeat. I bled so much the doctor said the baby would naturally abort in a few days. But I managed to continue the pregnancy into the sixteenth week.’
During those stressful few weeks, she had no idea that her mother was struggling with her own life-threatening situation in KwaZulu-Natal.
‘My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer the day after I thought I miscarried. She kept it a secret from me just to make sure I didn’t stress and took things easy instead.’ She did and Shivani managed to continue until her 23-week check-up. It was then that doctors realised there was no fluid around the baby and her stomach was looking a lot smaller than it probably should have.
‘At 25 weeks, I went for another check-up, and the baby weighed just 350 grams. While I was at the doctor, my mother was going through radiation treatment.’
Doctors told Shivani she needed to deliver the baby at 28 weeks, but at 27 weeks, she began to bleed severely. ‘I remember that day well. I was in a panic, not only because I was bleeding, but because I had no idea what to expect if I had to deliver the baby now.’
But she did – and her precious baby, Ariana, was about the size of a block of margarine with arms as tiny as a Barbie’s. Shivani remembers doctors running with her just-delivered baby to neo-natal. ‘The doctors were magnificent! They operated on Ariana’s tiny heart and all my husband and I could do was pray … we prayed so hard for our little girl.’
Shivani spent the next 89 days with her baby in hospital, and her mum – who was then in remission – spent six weeks with her after Ariana was discharged from hospital.
‘I hope to empower young women who face struggles beyond their control’
Today, amazing little Ariana is eight years old, and she has a sister. ‘I fell pregnant again in 2014 and have another healthy baby girl.’ And with her happy family at home, Shivani decided it was time to re-enter the workforce. ‘After having to give up my career eight years ago, I decided to get back to work and recently opened Africaz Chicken in Midrand.’
Africaz is the first store from the franchise to open in Jozi (there are 19 stores in KwaZulu-Natal) and it’s the first food outlet in Africa to have fully automated facilities. Think flame-grilled chicken and mouth-watering peri-peri pizza. Mmm!
But the store does more that serve tasty meals … Shivani and her family are firm believers in giving back. ‘I believe that everything in my life so far has happened for a reason and I’m so thankful for everything.’
The Nagiah family ensures than they care for their community, from giving food and clothing to the mentally handicapped to regular feedings for the homeless in Midrand. This family makes sure that kindness is at the forefront of their daily lives.
‘Even our Africaz store has a sense of family. We love our staff and customers, and cater to all needs across the board. All are welcome to enjoy the good food and great service provided.’
To bite into Africaz Chicken flame-grilled chicken, visit Shop 16,Midway Mews in Halfway House. Details: 010-494-9986