Crafting beer is what keeps him dreaming
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.