Mother of four girls, Phuti Kabasa, has turned her snack concept of flavoured dried mopani worms from a small home-based income stream into a thriving business.
Kabasa says mopani worms are a cheap and healthy form of protein but that South Africans are still warming up to the idea.
Kabasa is passionate about changing this trend and offers South Africans a locally sourced and affordable protein alternative that is also a reflection of true African cuisine.
“I’m the owner of Mopani Queens. I thought because I’m a mother of daughters, I want them to be part of the business in the future. I thought, okay, Mopani Queens is a a great name for my business. Initially, yes, it was in my kitchen. And as business grew, we sort of got like a separate workspace in my house,” says Kabasa.
Now they are working with Wakanda in Melville, where they’re are using a formal kitchen, allowing them to work better and much quicker at a larger scale. It’s only people who really grew up in Limpopo, in Gauteng and in Mpumalanga who know the worm.
“I’m trying to get as many people to be interested in eating mopani worms,” says Kabasa
“That’s why I was inspired to actually flavour them. I played around with a lot of spices until we got a winning formula that works. Traditionally mopani worms are a lot cheaper than your other protein sources. They are cheaper to buy, they’re cheaper to store, you don’t need to put them in the freezer,” she adds
Mopani worms are picked from the wild and they have no impact on the environment because they pick them when they’re in season. The bulk of their worms come from a Limpopo area called Mbaleni in Sothini.
“And then we also source our worms from Botswana, central Botswana. So two rural communities feed our business. They have to come to us dry, so you don’t need cold storage to move them from where they are picked to us, where we process them. We’ve been moving through different stages and we are here now where we are getting ready to get into retail stores,” says Kabasa.
Her business is not just a business.
“It’s a baby, it’s an extension of you, it’s an expression of your likes and your interests. You’re trying to sell a service to people. So you’re always in the game thinking about how I can make it better, how can I make it much more lucrative. If you’re a bit skeptical, just try,” she says.
She finishes by giving words of encouragement: “Just get in there and see how it is. It’s better to judge from the inside. So starting is very important. Start.”
This article first appeared on GroundUp and was republished with permission. Read the original article here
NOW READ: Dry-aged fish – South Africa’s new delicacy