Spice back in her life
THIS week we speak to Mikie Monoketsi, the founder and owner of Mama’s Spices & Herbs, which processes, packages, distributes and sells herbs and spices. What s your background? I am originally from Galeshewe, Kimberley, in the Northern Cape. I have lived in Joburg for 17 years now. Are you from a business family? I was not exposed directly to business. The closest exposure was through my grandmother, who raised me. She used to sell beer. She’s a huge inspiration for me. But I was entrepreneurial from a young age. I sold fudge, snoek, chicken feet and popcorn for pocket money. What sparked the idea of Mama s? I was down and out. I started looking for something to get me back on my feet. I had hit rock bottom. Just the thought of going back into the job market gave me nightmares. I was forced to think outside the box. I knew that the venture would have to be ekasi because that’s where it’s happening. I did extensive research on the township market: what business opportunities were available and how I could tap into them. I asked the man on the street what he was prepared to pay for a good-quality product.
Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I was born an entrepreneur, selling runs through my veins. I have always sold something. Explain your products and services? We sell high-quality but affordable spices, herbs and sauces to bakeries, restaurants, butcheries and caterers. I have access to more than 200 flavours and spices.
What sets you apart from your competition?
The spice business is highly competitive and there are many products that are dead cheap but not necessarily healthy or good for human consumption particularly products that are sold in the townships. Users [of inferior products] have to use double or triple the quantity to get the flavour they are looking for. Did you ever want to give up? It’s not easy running your own business. Giving up is not even an option to me I’m relentless. There are now many families who make a living through this business, so I want to make it accessible and create more opportunities for those who are ready to change their lives.
How has your business grown since its inception?
I now have more than 60 distributors. I started out as a one-woman show, working in various townships going to areas such as Diepsloot, Lion Park and Alexandra, where I knew no one, and slowly established a network of independent distributors that now stretches into other provinces and as far as Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho.