Retang Phaahla (26), fondly known as the “the tea lady”, has created a thriving tea business with her mother Nondumiso Phaahla (56), Setsong Tea. Their tea, which pays homage to her Pedi roots, is modelled around the social upliftment of the people of the Sekhukhune village, near Marble Hall in Limpopo.
This week’s Farmer’s Inside Track video episode features Retang Phaahla who started the tea enterprise with her mother when the latter retired as a nurse in 2003. They decided to explore the health benefits of the indigenous tea that was consumed by the native Pedi people in the village of Sekhukhune.
In the video, Phaahla gives extensive insights on the turbulence experienced while starting their tea enterprise, the dangers of pursuing entrepreneurial projects solely for monetary gain, and the dynamics of being business partners with family.
“The secret to working with my mother has definitely been good communication, and mutual respect for one another,” she says.
“Sometimes you can blur the lines between mom and daughter and business partners, and right now we have become more business partners than we are mom and daughter.”
Phaahla cites one of the biggest lessons in entrepreneurship as the urge to look for start-up money early in the endeavour. She urges future entrepreneurs to shy away from this thought. “Don’t rush to look for money if you haven’t really developed the proof that your business is tangible and that it works,” she says.
“We wanted to quickly find money and funding, because we thought we needed a million rand to get the project going. But we learned that it’s best to go with what you have and make the mistakes early on at your own expense, instead of getting someone else’s money and wasting that money,” she adds.
She advises her fellow entrepreneurs to make do with the absolute bare minimum to build trust with prospective investors. “Start with what you have. Do your market research, because if we hadn’t done our market research we wouldn’t know how to position our product into the market. Especially if you’re introducing something that people have never heard of.”
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