Image: GCIS Vuk’uzenzele.
Image: GCIS Vuk’uzenzele.
Halalisiwe Mncwango is creating jobs and boosting the local economy through her restaurant in Port Shepstone, KwaZulu-Natal.
Mncwango is the owner of Halalisa Restaurant and Shisanyama.
She says that although being an entrepreneur is not an easy exercise, her three children and families of her employees keep her motivated during trying times.
She established the food outlet in 2017 and it specialises in selling traditional African cuisine to its customers, including tripe, ox head, and ‘roadrunner’/’hardbody chicken.’
“We also offer braai meat and different meat platters, and customers can also weigh the amount of meat they want to buy and grill at the restaurant’s butchery,” she says.
The meat is served with either steam bread, pap, pap mixed with sugar beans (Isigwaqane) or greens (Imfino). Some of her customers enjoy fresh burgers and chips that are also on the menu.
“The restaurant has a lot of impact in the local economy because we started with just four workers but now the number has increased to 11 permanent employees. We also have casual staff workers who assist when we are catering for events,” she says.
Like many start-ups, Halalisa experienced a number of challenges in the early stages of operation.
“Financing the business was the main challenge in the beginning because I did not have capital and I could not get funding to start the business. I started the business with what I had because I could not apply for business loans as I was blacklisted due to my inability to settle debts then,” she explains.
Another challenge was securing the right people to work at the restaurant and
“People are always looking for greener pastures. If the salary that I pay them does not compete with what they are being offered elsewhere, they opt to leave,” she says.
The business is also located in the area where residents often experience inadequate water supply. This affects business operations because a lot of water is needed to thoroughly wash and prepare Halalisa’s signature dishes including ox tripe and to keep the whole restaurant hygienic.
“I had to use a lot of money to invest in installing water pumps and tanks, but they rely on electricity supply. This means when there is load shedding, we also go without water and have to close shop which translates to loss of profit,” she says.
Halalisa also struggled with marketing the business in order to attract more customers because marketing was an expensive exercise.
Initially, she did not know about Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) but later found out that the organisation helps small businesses like hers.
She approached the agency and it assisted her to brand the business with sign boards outside the restaurant and in the street, as well as the roof top signage that lights up at night.
“This has helped to attract more customers to our facilities and to generate more revenue because even people who did not know about us started walking in to buy food,” she says.
Seda also offered Mncwango food handling and hygiene training in order for her restaurant to avoid food poisoning.
The agency also assisted her to apply for the Township, Rural Entrepreneurship Programme (TREP). This was an initiative of the Department of Small Business Development that targets township and rural-based enterprises which are owned by entrepreneurs in the townships or rural areas.
If her application for TREP gets approved, Mncwango says it will enable her to buy more equipment that will help sustain the business.