Spice Empire With Just R10 000

Mikie Monoketsi
Mikie Monoketsi started Mama’s Spices & Herbs, the home of exquisite spices with just R10 000 a few years ago.  How she conceptualized the business might leave you questioning few things you might have read about researching a business idea. Mikie Monoketsi’s research methodologies prior to starting the business were very unconventional in their nature from the beginning. She parked her car in townships she was familiar with speaking to people there and with some allowing her in her kitchens.  

Monoketsi was surprised to learn how many people in the townships were using very cheap and poor quality spices with high levels of salt, MSG, preservatives, additives and bulking agents – which all negatively impact health and contribute to the high levels of hypertension and diabetes. The insights she gained from this formed the basis of the business.

Mama’s Spices & Herbs almost didn’t materialize even though she had done her research which proved that she was onto something big. In order to produce spices in South Africa or anywhere in the world for that matter, proper certification is required so does a fully equipped manufacturing facility. Mikie Monoketsi did not have any of the two and getting funds would delay her progress. With help from one of the people she met through networking at a local gym, she managed to launch the business.

Just a few months after launching, Mikie Monoketsi 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 food, 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 growth – a few thousand here and there adds up – and I was no more sophisticated than the spaza shops and road-side shisa nyamas I was supplying to,” she said to a publication previously.

To grow and maintain healthy sales volumes, Mikie Monoketsi tapped into her strongest pursuit; networking. She approached an existing entrepreneur who sold potatoes with a six-ton truck and delivers 15 tons of potatoes per month to informal food outlets. This meant that Mikie could access his network of customers to sell another spice blend from her stable for chip spice. Today the company has different products with the latest sensation, Flat Stomach Tea leading the pack. The product popular with the customer in SA and cross-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 - start their own businesses despite any limitations.