Agripreneur 101: Mopani queen shares her top business tips

 Phuti Ngoasheng Kabasa (36) is on a mission to change the negative perception of mopani worms. She has great tips from her own journey as an entrepreneur

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In 2018, Phuti Ngoasheng Kabasa started her mopani worm business from her home kitchen. At the time, her husband was out of work and the family was struggling to make ends meet. Kabasa started selling homemade atchar for an added income, when one of her clients suggested she start selling masonja (Sepedi for mopani worms).  

The suggestion sparked inspiration for Kabasa, who started researching ways to flavour the traditional delicacy. After countless experiments, she found the flavour she was most satisfied with and got to working on additional variations. Today, her business Mopani Queens is flourishing, with flavours like original salted, chili biltong, chutney, barbecue and peri-peri spiced worms on offer.  

With three years of experience under her belt, Kabasa gives us some tips on how to start an agribusiness:  

Know your market 

“Find a product that you are not only passionate about, but that provides your customers with a solution to their problem. It’s important to identify who your customers will be earlier on. Start small, then grow.” 

Phuti Ngoasheng Kabasa is changing the perception of mopani worms, one flavour at a time. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzanis.
Phuti Ngoasheng Kabasa is changing the perception of mopani worms, one flavour at a time. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi.

Be prepared to sacrifice  

“Funding is hard to come by. Be ready to bootstrap your project until funding comes through. A personal loan can help you achieve your goals.”  

Manage your finances correctly 

“Always separate your own finances and your business finances. Have separate accounts and separate cards.” 

Find a mentor 

“Join any mentoring programmes you can find for agripreneurs, and learn from the experiences of others.”  

Get a business plan and market your business  

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“It may sound tedious and impossible but [getting a business plan] is something you need in order for you to understand your business and plan for it. Social media punting can grow your product, but also join public market sessions to push your brand and product.”   

Provide quality service 

“Image is important. Always deliver on your promises and strive for top-level quality.” 

Research the legislation 

“Make sure you know and comply with all the legislation that may apply to you.” 

Kabasa says that there are a lot of things that go into starting and managing a business. “You will meet challenges but don’t drop the ball. Keep your eyes on the prize. You can do it.”  

ALSO READ: Mzansi’s mopani queen has given the worms a complete facelift 

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