Charmaine Kearabilwe, 39, brand strategist by profession – still my 9-5 and I’m a series junkie! Enjoy putting meals together too.
What inspired you to start Mbewu Fresh Produce?
I’ve always loved eating healthy meals but it was becoming ridiculously expensive. So one day I drove to the Johannesburg Market to get closer to the “source” and I was amazed at how affordable fresh produce really is. So I wanted to share that with other like-minded individuals.
Tell us more about your business:
When did you start the business and how long has it been operating?
We started in 2017 but really started operating in November 2018.
What kind of products do you offer?
I offer fresh, pre-cut & prepacked vegetables, fruits, smoothie packs, picnic baskets, and crisps made of Amadumbe/Cocoyam. Our future plans are to expand into healthy snacks & beverages e.g. nuts, dried fruit, fresh juices, kombucha tea.
How did you fund the business?
The business is self-funded.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
I am completely agile in that every order is prepared & packaged according to each customer’s specific requirements, delivered at their door for convenience. Not a one size fits all approach.
Where are you based and how many people do you employ?
We are an e-commerce store – no brick & mortar, but run operations out of City Deep (the Jhb market) and I currently employ 2 people, plus myself.
How have you been received by consumers and the industry in which you operate?
Consumers still believe that eating healthy is expensive – the market has preconditioned them this way, therefore they are a bit skeptical at our prices, but after one trial, we often get repeat business and word-of-mouth plays a huge role.
What are your hopes for Mbewu Fresh Produce?
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you and Mbewu Fresh Produce?
Food security is a major issue in South Africa, so we recently embarked on a social impact initiative to help feed students in the Joburg area (where we currently operate) and so every time consumers purchase from us, they are inadvertently helping us to make this possible. Our last check-out step prompts shoppers to contribute and we’re receiving amazing support so far.
What is the one thing you’d say to young people out there who may be sitting on brilliant ideas?