Spice back in her life

Sunday World - - Business -

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.

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