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Uniqueness and giving back the basis of Abigail's business approach

Sep 26 2018 18:21
Carin Smith

Abigail Mbalo-Mokoena is the founder of 4Roomed eKasi Culture.

Her business has four arms of service, namely culinary creations - including her eKasi restaurants; accommodation and property management; décor, art and exclusive events management; and soul wear or "nostalgic" clothing.

She told Fin24 more about her journey as entrepreneur.

Tell us a bit about yourself

My number one value is art. This value has helped me to realise my purpose in life, which is creating art in any form regardless of the environment I am exposed to.

As a little girl, I played a game called “house” until my teenage years. In township areas, this game was normally called “poppy-huis”. In this game, children used soil and any handy scrap materials that they could find to build their "poppy-huis" and use as a furniture as well as other accessories.

I had the imagination required to make my "poppy huis" my favourite secret space on a daily basis. When not at school, studying or reading my brother’s books and the newspaper, I lived my life in my "poppy huis" – living and imagining art, cooking, interior design, décor and painting.
 
Tell us about your business

4Roomed eKasi Culture is a lifestyle concept based on the four-roomed homes found in the oldest townships of SA. A life celebrated through great food, beautiful home decor and art, and the most inconceivable lifestyle ideas, which evoke a sense of nostalgia while promoting an inclusive hub for all who live and visit SA.

4Roomed eKasi Culture’s most important role is to bring about a dignified standard of life while conducting business in the townships, encouraging participation from all. We are here to tell the good and inspiring story of 4Roomed homes of the 1970s and to inspire ordinary people in the township space.

There are continuous lessons and innovative ideas that come with the experience of the journey. We launched a new innovative product called “4Roomed eKasi Culture Township & Rural Tourism Development – Drive in April 2018.

This is less than a year old and is beginning to change the landscape of Khayelitsha tourism by helping to build valuable relationships and bringing more tourism business to Khayelitsha tourism.

How did you become an entrepreneur?

My husband and my boys played a huge role by pestering me to enter MasterChef SA.

4Roomed opened the doors of its concept restaurant in the heart of Khayelitsha in December 2016 alongside a Fine Dining in the township stint established in 2014 out of a vintage food truck.

The concept was born when I was participating in the Master Chef competition. The concept of 4Roomed eKasi Culture and why it exists became a reason and inspiration to keep going in the enduring and exiting prestigious food competition in early 2014.
 
What were the challenges?

Like any business that is less than three years in full operation, we have a risk of sustainability issues like, succession planning, market share and cash flow versus sales can be a challenge.

Domestic tourism could do better in supporting local business and growing the township and rural economy in general.

What have been the successes?

The world loves our story, particularly international tourist families that show us a lot of support. They love the component of Ubuntu in everything we do.

We were, for instance, invited by a private tour agent to cook and present South African township cuisine to the Swiss people.

The tour agent leadership met us at Africa Travel Indaba 2018 at our 4Roomed eKasi Culture exhibition stand in Durban in May 2018.

What are your future plans?

Early next year we will be introducing a fast food division, which will be catering for people in the township who want to enjoy eKasi Culture's flavours.
 
What advice do you have for other would be entrepreneurs?

Look at what you can do to build a better SA. Look at yourself and bring your uniqueness to life.
 
Your innovations and solutions to business dynamics and challenges come from the application of knowledge that comes from all sorts of fields of study.

Focusing on greatness. Realise that focusing on making life better for others at large is a quality that you must have and continuously build your “great team”.

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