Craft­ing beer is what keeps him dreaming

Pretoria News - - News - JOSEPH BOOYSEN joseph.booysen@inl.co.za

ZIM­BAB­WEAN-BORN en­tre­pre­neur Lethukuthula Tsha­bangu’s ex­po­sure to craft beer led him to es­tab­lish his own brew­ery, Ukhamba Beer­worx.

Tsha­bangu says his faith and heart kept his dream of do­ing some­thing spe­cial to cap­ture the spirit and per­son­al­ity of Africa in a beer.

He says he de­cided on craft beer as cus­tomers, par­tic­u­larly tourists, loved the taste and of­ten en­quired about it.

“I de­cided that I would like to make my own beer and told my friends, and they asked me what I would call it. I re­mem­ber my grand­fa­ther used to call beer Ukhamba be­cause of the cal­abash pot,” he said.

Tsha­bangu moved to Cape Town in 2012 to start a new life.

His ini­tial tar­get was to do events man­age­ment, which was what he did in Jo­han­nes­burg, but a stint as a bar­man at the V&A stall changed all that.

He says he de­cided on Ukhamba af­ter ex­per­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent fu­sions at home, learn­ing more about craft beers and tak­ing thou­sands of sips along the way.

“Even­tu­ally, I got a chance to buy a share in the Brew­ers Co-op in Lower Main Street (Wood­stock), a small brew­ery owned by 16 guys who all give each other turns to brew,” he says. “It’s so amaz­ing be­cause you ex­change ideas.”

Tsha­bangu says he took his sam­ple to brew­eries such as Riot Beer, where the owner even­tu­ally of­fered to sell and he changed the name to Ukhamba Beer­worx.

He says the process of brew­ing craft beer is not very labour-in­ten­sive as one or two good peo­ple are able to do it, adding that his pas­sion made him per­se­vere with chal­lenges such as get­ting a firm grip on fi­nances.

“I’m not a num­bers per­son. When we started with this busi­ness, we did bun­gle a lot of fi­nances. Xero has changed my life as it makes my life eas­ier be­cause the whole set-up is easy. It makes an or­di­nary guy like me look like an ac­coun­tant.”

He says his dream now is to part­ner with a big­ger brew­ery with bet­ter equip­ment to achieve fur­ther growth for big­ger vol­umes, bet­ter qual­ity, bet­ter pack­ag­ing and start dis­tribut­ing na­tion­ally.

“I would like one day to take a plane to Zam­bia and drop off some­thing and go to Botswana and drink Ukhamba beer and then come back,” he says.

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