South Africa has a ‘braai culture’ that unites us as a nation and has created numerous business opportunities. This has birthed innovative entrepreneurs who are capitalising on this culture and are creatively fusing two challenges to fill this gap.
Polokwane’s Matome Maphala is one such entrepreneur who saw a gap in the market and identified a unique business venture of using old geysers to create something new, useful, and beautiful- this was the birth of Matswi Braai Stands.
Maphala is a self-taught welder, who back in 2017, after completing his Electrical Trade qualification, experimented on an old geyser and turned it into a geyser drum/smoker braai stand. Maphala says, “I was at home with my older brother who had a welding machine, and there was an old geyser in the backyard which I suggested we use to try and make a Braai Stand.”
Many have said that entrepreneurship is in their blood but Maphala confesses that he didn’t always want to be an entrepreneur, what drove him to become one was the outcome of what he and his brother came up with after making the first braai stand from an old geyser. Regardless of how he came to be an entrepreneur Maphala’s instinct was spot on, but what was also impressive is that he came up with a name that described the products they specialised in. “Hence the name ‘Matswi Braai Stands’ & ‘Matswi’ is my nickname,” he adds.
One thing Maphala understands about business is how to build a successful client base, he makes sure he takes pictures whenever a customer collects or when he delivers his products and shares them with his network. “We also ask our clients to send us pictures when they use our products and that also helps to build trust with potential clients and everyone interested in our products.” This further validates the saying ‘customers are king.’
Even though the business is based in Seshego, Polokwane, he has managed to break geographical barriers through innovative marketing and business partnerships. “Our main form of marketing is through social media posts. We are also fortunate because we are getting positive media coverage as well, which is helping us reach a wider audience.” The business is growing, and as of the 1st of April, these ecstatically pleasing braai stands are now available at 4King Fantasties at No 9 Eland Street Koedoespoort, Pretoria.
Despite the success and all the publicity, his greatest fear is running out of geyser tanks. To avoid this, Maphala keeps in touch with the plumbers in and around his area since they are his suppliers. He explains that even though there is fear, customer feedback fuels him and influences the product development and idea-generating process.
This motivation drives him and explains why success for him is continuous progress and growth, no matter how small it may be. Is there a winning formula for entrepreneurship and success? Maphala says, “I don’t think there’s a pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur, however, there are some habits that one must adopt to become a successful entrepreneur.”
His entrepreneurship journey is exciting due to the endless possibilities of what he can create. For Maphala, there is always room for improvement, so he is continuously analysing the products to see if he can come up with something new or improve an existing idea.
When asked what he loves about entrepreneurship, his answer is simple yet impactful. He says “My favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur is that there are no limits on how far one can go with their business.”
So the next time you want braai meat, use a Matswi Braai Stand- a proudly mzansi product that will add that extra thing to our beloved proudly mzansi culture.