When Sibonginkosi Msipha started working at Amazing Spaces, her chocolate chip cookies had clients running back for more. With the help of her mentor and employer, Julia Finnis-Bedford, Mpisha launched her own cookie range in 2018 and has not looked back since.
Hailing from Bindura in Zimbabwe, Msipha, known as Mama Bongi, loves to cook. Her chocolate chip cookie range is also called Mama Bongi, and is available in dozens of stores across the country, including the popular Wellness Warehouse chain in the Western Cape.
Msipha’s life changed when she started working at Amazing Spaces, a film locations company owned by Finnis-Bedford. Part of her duties included cooking for the company’s clients. Her chocolate chip cookies were so delicious, clients kept asking for more.
“I was making lunches for the girls and baking cookies and crunchies for our clients. The clients loved the cookies, and they [asked], ‘How can we get these cookies?’. So, Julia [said], ‘Mama, I think this is a good thing for you. Just go for it. Just start your own business. And then we can call the business Mama Bongi.’ That’s how it started.”
Reaching new heights
Unlike for most businesses, 2020 was a good year for Mama Bongi. Msipha says the company faced a bit of a challenge when they ran out of packaging during lockdown, but the demand for cookies never lessened. “Fortunately Julia had a friend who gave us packaging. I was busy baking and [there were] queues. A lot of people were waiting, wanting the cookies.”
Mpisha lists getting recognised in public and travelling by air for the first time as some of the more rewarding experiences she had since the cookie brand launched.
“When I go to the shops, like maybe Pick n Pay, people want to take a photo [with] me. [And] my first time going to Zimbabwe on a plane. Oh, that was rewarding, just to fly from Cape Town to Zimbabwe.”
Being able to care for her family is a big motivation in Mpisha’s life. She is also inspired by being able to make a difference in the lives of others. “We hired people who are taking care of their families. For them to also improve their lives, I’m happy about that.”
Mpisha has the following advice for agripreneurs who are interested in the baking business:
Starting a new venture is hard. You have to be willing to put in the effort to make the business a success.
Have a plan
When you start your business, you need to have an idea of what you want it to be. That requires planning.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions if you do not know something.
There’s no use waiting for perfection. Just start with what you have.
Associate with positive people
If you associate with positive people in your business journey, you will never go wrong.
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