The impressive entrepreneurial stories of craft ice-cream maker, Sine Ndlele, traditional ginger beer brewer, Mosibudi Makgato, and founder of Soweto based neighbourhood market, Kgosi Rampa, indicate significant turning of the tide in South Africa’s culture of self-employment.
The three stories behind Yamama Gemmer, Yo Coco dairy-free ice-cream and LoCrate Market & Makhelwane Festival point to the rise of artisanal entrepreneurship in place for speculative entrepreneurship.
In the years gone by, when South Africa’s economy was beginning to open up, speculative entrepreneurship became the order of the day. Remember those meetings where people scurrying around with CK2 forms to register close corporations without knowing what they are going to be trading? Everything and anything that promised to make money was core business.
That culture is giving way to artisanal entrepreneurship which is marked by persons leveraging their passions, skills and expertise of making things, with their hands in particular, to go into business.
The artisanal entrepreneurship path was showcased in the latest session of To The Point, a Property Point gathering designed to support, equip and motivate entrepreneurs.
The three stories of Kgosi Rampa, Mosibudi Makgato and Sine Ndlele do more. They reveal key factors that drive creative youth into entrepreneurship. Necessity is just one element. The other soft elements include pursuit of happiness, freedom, passion and drive to change things.
Here follows their stories:
Kgosi Rampa: Co-founder, LoCrate Market & Makhelwane Festival
The LoCrate Market (LoCrate is a portmanteau for local creative) is the first lifestyle market in Soweto and has grown to become one of the biggest platforms for local artisan entrepreneurs to showcase their businesses. LoCrate offers a unique local take on fashion, food, live music and culture. The LoCrate brand has grown to host the annual Makhelwane Festival. The festival’s unique business model transforms ordinary houses in Soweto into eateries, galleries and unplugged music lounges for one weekend every December. It creates a direct cash injection into the neighbourhood economy and provides Sowetans and tourists with festive entertainment.
Why I became an entrepreneur:
“My brother and I decided we wanted to change the narrative and create a new story for the entrepreneurs of Soweto. We wanted to create a story that wasn’t about trying to get a BMW and not just about the seamstresses and taxi drivers. All our friends are creatives, so we wanted to use the power of creativity to write this new story. We wanted to portray fashion designers, gourmet burgers and showcase a unique lifestyle aspect. The idea behind the market is to create an environment where young and aspiring entrepreneurs, creators and innovators could showcase and sell their products. In addition, they could meet other like-minded people, validate new ideas, get tips from established brands, create connections and get the necessary exposure to take their business further. The Makhelwane Festival is about us going back to the neighbourhood where we grew up. They say it takes a neighbourhood to raise a child and we wanted to say thank you to our neighbourhood.”
Mosibudi Makgato: Co-founder, Yamama Gemmer
Yamama Gemmer is a South African, crafted, traditional ginger beer founded by Mosibudi Makgato and Rosemary Padi. It caters to the nostalgic need for traditional, South African food and drink. Yamama’s retail outlet opened last year in Randburg, Johannesburg, and the factory has been thriving since 2015.
Why I became an entrepreneur:
“I had a good corporate career and was moving up nicely. However, the higher I moved, the more depressed I became. I was working long hours and late nights and investing so much in a business that wasn’t a legacy for my kids. We had started Yamama Gemmer as a weekend business and had run it that way for many years. Then Rosemary left her information technology industry job to go into the business full-time. The growing demand for our ginger beer then drew me to leave my job and commit to the business full-time. At the time I had to decide if I was willing to stay in my comfortable life where I was depressed and didn’t see much of my son or to downgrade and create a legacy. Leaving corporate was a big risk, and even though I made sure I had resources and a plan, things didn’t always go according to the plan. Even so, I have chosen to stay with our business and today we have grown to include more distributers and are beginning to carve our way into the rest of Africa. I wear a bangle that reminds me to “Love what you do. Do what you Love.”. It has become my motto.
Sine Ndlela: Founder, Yo Coco dairy-free ice-cream
Yo Coco dairy-free and vegan ice-cream has been recognised by Eat Out South Africa and regularly sells out at Sunday markets. Sine also delivers directly to her clients. She recognised a gap in the market when she decided to peruse a vegan lifestyle but couldn’t find anywhere to purchase vegan-friendly ice-cream. Yo Coco was then built on the principle of serving love to people and preserving the environment while doing it.
Why I became an entrepreneur:
“I moved to Joburg to make my dream come true in the TV industry. When I got here, I found it wasn’t as great as I had expected. I really questioned what I was doing. I didn’t want to live to make money by doing something I didn’t necessarily enjoy. So, I asked myself: “what is my purpose?” I love ice-cream. I wanted to be vegan but didn’t want to live without ice-cream. I had a look at what was available to buy, and it wasn’t great so, I decided to change that. My family thought I was crazy and I could tell that some people saw my ice-cream making as a hobby. That’s when I knew I needed to take myself seriously if I wanted to be a profitable businesswoman.This year is our one year anniversary and I couldn’t be happier that I stuck it out. YoCoco believes in serving love, and we do so in various ways including some of the initiatives we support. I think that’s what makes us different. For us, it’s more than just ice-cream.