Project Qala empowers local entrepreneurs

Tumi Masekela, Corporate Affairs Director of Mars Multisales Africa (left) with Mphoko Matsie, Director of Regulatory and Stakeholder Management, Destea. PHOTO: PIERVE VAN HEERDEN

Mars Multisales Africa, in partnership with the Department of Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Destea), recently launched Project Qala with the aim to empower local entrepreneurs and create income streams that alleviate generational poverty.

This programme was presented in three phases with the first phase being the 22 days’ training of beneficiaries, which started in September 2019, focusing on the following subjects: how to develop a business plan, financial management, customer service and how to expand a business. Training was followed by the enterprises pitching their business plans that were developed throughout the training to a panel of judges.

The final stage of the programme was the cook-off on 15 November 2019 at 11:00 at Twin City Hall in Bloemfontein. This was a grand event where beneficiaries were expected to showcase their culinary skills. Before that, beneficiaries were given some tricks of the trade by celebrity chef, Siphokazi Mdlankomo.

Participants busy with the cook-off. PHOTO: DESTEA

Mphoko Matsie, director of Regulatory and Stakeholder Management at Destea described the day as a fun day. “The ladies were given a mystery box from which they had to prepare a meal for the cook-off, which added a fun element to the entire project. The ladies did various interventions such as food safety, business diagnostics, etc. The five winners are to be incubated by Mars for about a year and as a department we are going to refurbish their establishments.”

According to Corporate Affairs Director for Mars Multisales Africa, Tumi Masekela, entrepreneurship in South Africa is very critical and the project between Mars, Destea and Nedbank saw an opportunity to be part of the change as SA’s township economy is thriving. “We know that through entrepreneurs we are able to create the jobs that we need and what a better way to start than in our own communities.

So we came together and said let’s have a look at current existing businesses in the townships and people who are passionate about cooking and want to grow but do not have the means,” Masekela said.

The cook-off drew the attention of bypassers and locals and is regarded by Mars as a huge success. The five local vendors won a business make-over and an opportunity to become Mars distributors in the Free State.