He is only 27 years old but already Mpho Mpfuni owns two farms with a combined size of 22 hectares and processes the organic chillies grown on the farm to produce a sauce that’s now in retail stores in three different provinces.
Mpfuni and Khuliso Gumani, 27, distribute the sauce to retail stores in Gauteng, Limpopo and an independent distributor in Kwazulu-Natal. Instead of relying solely on selling their produce trough a middleman, they are farmers and agro processors.
According to the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries during 2016, the contribution of the agro-processing industry to the real value added (GDP) accounted to 32.2% and 4.4% respectively.
Furthermore, the contribution of the agro-processing industry to the real output of the manufacturing sector and the economy was 31.6% and 7.7% respectively.
Mpfuni, who hails from Biaba in Makhado owns two farms with a combined size of 22 hectares on tribal trust land in Ha-Rabali and Tshitwi villages in the Nzhelele area.
Many small scale farmers operating from tribal trust land are struggling to secure loans to grow their businesses and also struggle to access markets. But the duo have found a winning formula.
Gumani who describes himself as a ‘street chef’ – someone who learnt to cook through acquired experience and not formal training said the reception towards the sauce, has been amazing.
“People of all ages have proven to be so smitten with the sauce,” he said.
“Everyone in my family knows how to cook. My grandmother also makes chilli sauce but does not eat it. Maybe I was just bound to be a foodie since I was exposed to cooking from an early age,” said the Thohoyandou P-West born fellow.
Mulilo Hot Sauce is produced from organic chillies grown from Mpfuni’s farm. The duo co-founded the company and it is 100% black owned. Mulilo means fire in Tshivenda. The sauce comes in three different flavours: Mild, Hot and Extra Hot and costs R30 each.
Besides just adding the sauce into ready-made food, it can also be used to cook and as a marinade for meat.
The company currently produces 700 crates of chillies weekly with an equivalence of 2 800
bottles per month. Though Mulilo Hot Sauce is currently manufactured inside a home-made
kitchen, tests on its health benefits were conducted at the University of Venda’s laboratories.
But plans to open a full-time operating store with a kitchen and a processing cold room to put
products at right temperatures are on the cards.
The company is working on procuring an industrial blender equipment to increase efficiency.
“We also want to take the products for further testing and certification in order to access all supermarkets nationwide before going international,” said Gumani.
In South Africa, the hot sauce category is currently outpacing sales of the tomato sauce category, albeit from a small base, according to a 2014 report by Finweek. It estimated the local hot sauce market at just over R200 million per annum.
Mpfuni holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Cost Management (BCCM) qualification from the University of Venda while Gumani is doing his final year in Bachelor of Arts in Development Studies (BADS) from the same institution.
Youth entrepreneurship has never been an easy task with majority of the youth always crying foul over lack of funding to get their businesses up and running. But the two financed their business from their savings of close to R5000.
“You can cry about funding all you want but if you do not start something there is no need for you to be funded. You can’t say you want to be funded for you to start a supermarket while you even failed to sell a mere cool-time [ice lolly]. It does not make sense,” said Mpfuni.
The duo has always been passionate about entrepreneurship. Gumani has owned a car wash and a small cooking stall before, while Mpfuni has been into construction. They said lessons learnt from their initial ventures broadened their perspective regarding entrepreneurship. They also said passion and love towards business should be what drives youth who want to be entrepreneurs because even when the going gets tough, they would not give up.
“It is not a matter of getting into business because you want money but because you are passionate about the product you want to pursue. Many people are not following their hearts but money. So, it is advisable to grow your product first, persevere and the rest shall follow,” Mpfuni said. – Mukurukuru Media