• By not shying away from challenges, entrepreneur Mmamosebetsi Isabella Twala is the first black South African woman to make okra into a shake.

    The business operates from a semi-rural area but there is nothing small or even rural about Elisheva Trading, a company in the agro-food processing sector owned by Mmamosebetsi Isabella Twala.

    Her business makes Gumbo Shake, which is stocked in retail shops across the country.

    “I am the first black South African woman to make okra into a shake and it has gone through intense development and testing to give the best taste.”

    The okra shake is suitable for vegans, vegetarians, and health-conscious people.

    2022’s research showed that South Africa was one of only 12 economies in the world where women’s entrepreneurial activity rates increased in 2021, this was according to the latest Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs Index (MIWE 2021).

    Twala was still riding this wave, however, her business was yet to reach its peak spurring other young aspiring women entrepreneurs.

    Mmamosebetsi Isabella Twala

    Located in the semi-rural area of Klipgat in Mabopane the company also makes atchar with the brand name Betzzi Atchar as well as crushed garlic.

    “We are among 7% black women-owned businesses that ventured into food processing. Due to the lack of machinery and equipment, it is difficult to penetrate this market but because of our determination and passion, we are setting an example to those that are coming behind us.”

    The business supplies its agro-processed products to local retail stores and it’s also available through a street vendor and it’s sold in Klipgat.

    By producing various products, the business has multiple streams of income.

     “I’ve obtained certificates about how to handle food and being part of FNB’s Social Entrepreneurship Impact Lab has changed my business for the better.”

    In 2014, Twala resigned from corporate employment to follow her dreams of becoming an entrepreneur.

    “I followed in the footsteps of my grandfather and father by going into agriculture. I’ve also attended training, workshops, and seminars to sharpen my skill and knowledge in farming and agro-food processing,” After leaving her corporate job, Twala used her pension fund to get the ball rolling and she purchased her company’s vehicle, laptop, and printer.

    The business currently has four employees and Twala said she aims to hire eight employees by the end of 2023.

    Entrepreneurship comes with challenges and when Twala was a crop farmer, her challenges were theft and animals grazing on her farm because it was not fenced.

    She also struggled with water irrigation systems. Her challenge now as an agro-food processor is that she is using domestic equipment which limits her production process.

    “It’s slow, and we can only produce in small quantities. We need industrial machinery so we can produce in large quantities which will lead to sales increase and capacity building.”

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    Issued by Fetola

    Feature image: Getty Images