In March 2015, Nyakallo Mokoena came up with the idea of offering people hot beverages through winter. Before long, this concept catapulted into something much bigger
Mokoena says: “I thought about it and decided that instead of putting regular coffee into white foam cups, I was going to start a coffee brand. I knew that I was going to need proper insulated coffee cups and would have to get them branded. In addition, I needed the right kind of coffee to give my own flavour to it. That’s when I came up with the name Mcofana.
Urban street culture inspired the name. The young entrepreneur tells DESTINY MAN that he wanted to come up with a catchy name, but battled to find something suitable. “I was sitting with a friend and told him that I was struggling to come up with a sophisticated name. I said: ‘This Mcofana thing is stressing me out.’ That’s when he told me: ‘That’s your name right there. That’s what you’re going to call your coffee brand.’”
Mokoena was born and bred in Zamdela, Sasolburg (Free State), and admits that he wanted to do something other than selling clothing and the like in his neighbourhood. He adds: “Normally, entrepreneurs in my community go into selling apparel or become musicians, but I wanted something that people wouldn’t expect to come out of ekasi – something vibrant and appealing to the youth market.”
Before March 2015, Mokoena had a completely different plan for his life. He resigned from his job as a shift manager at Musica in December 2015 to dedicate 2016 to Back2Kasi (B2K) – one of the biggest music shows in the Vaal – as well as to growing Mcofana. Over the past two months, Mcofana has skyrocketed and Mokoena now works alongside two business partners who assist with administrating the flow and growth of the business.
He tells DESTINY MAN: “One of the guys offered to help with administration. Since Mcofana doesn’t generate enough money yet, I have made him a 20% shareholder.”
Getting a start-up business off the ground certainly comes with growing pains. Mokoena says that while Mcofana is picking up pace, funding is still a major challenge, because, as the business expands, they need to reach out and meet the demand. There have been requests for Mcofana in Durban, but because of financial restrictions, they are not able to travel extensively as yet.
However, Mokoena is hopeful that funding will come with time. He adds that any entrepreneur needs to have a vision of where they would like to take their brand. He also reiterated the importance of having committed people on your team.
“Some days, it gets cold and you lose out on sleep preparing for the next event”, says Mokoena. “For this reason, it is imperative that you work with people who understand the challenges.”
Mokoena is currently trading in Sasolsburg and does occasional events in Joburg and surrounding areas, while they secure a store in a Free State mall. “We’re on the waiting list, but while our application is processed, we’ll keep promoting the brand. We want to keep trading during summer and will be exploring the likes of cooler drinks, like iced coffee and cappuccinos.”
Everything Mokoena has learnt about coffee, he researched via the Internet, while consulting a few experts in the field.
Mokoena is also very hands-on in the process of selecting the coffee beans. He explains: “We use Rwandan beans, but also have the option of Kenyan and Utopian ones. Once we have the beans, we grind it ourselves to the specific requirements.
Mokoena says that their plan is to mobilise Mcofana by purchasing coffee dispenser bags. The aim of this is to create jobs, with workers seeing to the caffeine needs of commuters in and around the hotspots of Joburg. In addition, they are looking to open a few shops around SA.