Celebrating successful women-owned businessesadmin
A Spice Empire with Just R10 000
A few years ago, Mikie Monoketsi started Mama’s Spices & Herbs, the home of exquisite spices, with just R10 000. The way that she conceptualised the business might leave you questioning a few things you might have read about researching a business idea. Mikie Monoketsi’s research methodologies prior to starting the business were very unconventional by nature. She parked her car in townships that she was familiar with and began speaking to people. Some even allowed her into their kitchens.
Mikie was surprised to learn how many people in the townships were using very cheap and poor- quality spices. These spices contained high levels of salt, MSG, preservatives, additives and bulking agents – which all negatively impact health and contribute to high levels of hypertension and diabetes. The insights she gained from this formed the basis of her business.
Even though she had done her research and knew that she was onto something big, Mama’s Spices & Herbs almost didn’t materialise. In order to produce spices in South Africa or anywhere in the world for that matter, proper certification is required as well as a fully equipped manufacturing facility. Mikie did not have either of the two, and getting funds would delay her progress. With the help of one of the people she met through networking at a local gym, she managed to launch her business and have her spice range certified.
Women are the pillars of township society, and in honour of Women’s Month in August, Spotong sat down with two successful women in business who have found their passion in life.
Just a few months after launching, Mikie learned an important lesson. Even though her turnover was impressive, she was not making any money. “I found that because I didn’t cost everything, despite my sales improving, I wasn’t making more money. I realised I wasn’t factoring in the samples I was giving out and when you’re in the food industry, market samples are critical but you must factor in their costs. I also realised that using the business as a personal piggy bank was hampering its growth – a few thousand here and there adds up – and I was no more sophisticated than the spaza shops and roadside shisa nyamas I was supplying to,” she said.
To grow and maintain healthy sales volumes, Mikie tapped into her strongest pursuit- networking! She approached an existing entrepreneur who sold potatoes with a six-ton truck and delivered 15 tons of potatoes per month to informal food outlets. This meant that Mikie could access his network of customers to sell her chip spice. Today the company has different products with the latest sensation, Flat Stomach Tea leading the pack. This product, the most popular with customers in both SA and across the border, balances blood sugar and flattens the abdomen.
Mikie Monoketsi has a come a long way since achieving her goals and starting the business with just R10 000 in her pocket. Going forward, she would like to teach others to do the same and start their own businesses, despite limitations. Mikie has embarked on an exciting journey by teaching aspirational entrepreneurs from all walks of life on how to start and run a business of any size. The free workshops will be held at the Mama’s Spices & Herbs headquarters. Themed, “You Can Own a Successful Business,” it will cover the nitty-gritty of conceptualising a business idea and then turning that idea into a striving enterprise. The practical workshops are open to anyone who would like to start a business. The one-day workshops take place on Fridays from 10:00 am to 14:00.