What started as Nthanyiseni Muvhenzhe’s passion saw him become a successful entrepreneur in the food industry, thanks to his unique chilli sauce.
Muvhenzhe, 35, is the founder of Kupisa chilli sauce company, which he founded in 2018 in Venda, Limpopo.
He says his passion for making chilli sauce started in his mother’s kitchen in Tshiavha village.
This is where he toyed with the idea of manufacturing his own brand of sauce, and this is how Kupisa came into being.
One thing that sets his chilli sauce apart from the others is the use of original Venda herbs such as lugu, one of wild edible vegetables with medicinal properties consumed by Vhavenda , and many other herbs.
Muvhenzhe plants his chillies and lugu among his herbs on the shores of the famous Lake Fundudzi.
He says when he started the project, he had to focus on research and development, and spent his own money.
“I had no capital but the money that I had saved and some loans helped make my dream a reality. Since I did not have any financial backing from the banks, I worked with what I had and based on my passion to see this project get off the ground, I soldiered on,” says Muvhenzhe.
He says it was a challenge to penetrate the market given that there are bigger chilli sauce brands available in the country.
However, he feels he had to give it a try and marketed his product through word of mouth and social media.
“It was not an easy ride for me to get this business working as there were challenges of accessing the market, however, due to my experience as a former sales manager in the auto industry, I brought a wealth of skill and knowledge to push the limits.
“I worked round the clock to negotiate for my products to be given a chance in retail shops, while accessing markets through sales from the boot of my car and also having salespeople in different areas.
“It was a tough call to make but I had to get the product out there.
“Though some people doubted my hustle, I tried my best and it started to work for me.”
Muvhenzhe is now reaping the fruits of success as Kupisa chilli sauce is distributed across the country, while he is in advanced negotiations with five foreign countries, including Germany, to get his chilli sauce distributed outside SA.
“We are doing quite well in the business as we have our products at the five largest distributors of consumer goods such as Pick n Pay, Shoprite, Spar, Boxer and Massmart in the country.
“This is a sign of progress and continuity for our brand to be recognised and make strides,” says Muvhenzhe.
“We believe this business will create more employment and contribute enormously to the gross domestic product of our country.”
Kupisa has 21 employees and Muvhenzhe aim is to create more employment opportunities in the near future.
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