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Q-ton Cooking oil: giving people what they need and can afford

Avhaathu Queeneth Mutele, from Ha-Maelula, Limpopo, is a Military practitioner and the founder of Q-ton cooking oil under the Nyitombuya Trading and Consulting company.

This black-owned business, launched in 2022, supplies refined cooking oil to households and small and big businesses such as restaurants, spaza shops, and NGOs.

The customer determines the quantities needed. The cooking oil is available in 500ml, 750ml, 1L, 2L, 5L, 10L, 20L, and large quantities such as 1000MT. Fortunately, the business also offers delivery services in selected areas of Gauteng and Limpopo.

Q-ton cooking oil is available in Gauteng, Limpopo but Mutele plans for the product to be available in other provinces.

The name is a combination of her name Queeneth and her husband’s nickname Toneel (an Afrikaans name translated in English as “scene”). She explains, “We then took the letter Q “which is from Queen, and took Ton “from Toneel” and we came up with the name Q-ton.”

Mutele’s entrepreneurial journey started from young age, but Q-ton journey started recently when monitoring the food products trend. She says, “We realised that cooking oil is costly, and people struggled to keep up with the cost. That’s where we saw an opportunity to get involved in the cooking oil business. We then began looking for a manufacturer to assist us in fulfilling the business idea. Luckily we found one, and that’s how the business idea come about.”

Fortunately for Mutele, making a difference in people’s lives with more affordable and quality products was her driving force. In addition, the desire to gain satisfaction from doing something tremendous and finding personal meaning from building a business inspired her to become an entrepreneur.

While offering an essential product at an affordable price, she built her brand through social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook because of the low-cost or inexpensive way it enabled her to spread the word about the business. Mutele says, “We partnered with other businesses in the food industry, but more importantly, we ensured we provided excellent customer service because customers expect perfection. We also engage with needy or unhappy customers because this was an opportunity to grow our customer base by redressing our missteps.”

Fortunately, understanding that collaborations and excellent customer service is essential helped Mutele grow Q-Ton. Mutele emphasises that she encourages customer advocacy. “It is challenging to attract new customers to a new business, especially now that they’ve never heard of your product or service. So we also collect customer feedback and keep asking our customers for feedback about how products and services we offer them. Providing incentives in the form of discounts has also helped us build a strong customer base.”

Despite the brand being reasonably new, the following marketing strategies have been successful for her. Mutele recommends using the following:

  • Use social media.
  • Optimisation search engine
  • Vehicle branding (magnet)
  • Ask colleagues to post the business on their social media platforms
  • Word of mouth
  • Area brand activation in Malls, Informal settlements, townships, etc.

One thing she prides herself in is the culture within her business. She explains the differences. She adds, Clan Culture is important because our customers become family to us, and we treat them as family and owner of the business. Without them, there’s no business. We need them more than they need us. In Tshivenda we say ” Vhathu ndi mapfura vhaya dolwa“.”

For such a newly formed business, Mutele says she lives a truly fulfilled life. “We need to have a sense of purpose. When we have a purpose, we feel directed and more certain about our lives and direction. We get motivated when we see our customers happy about our product which they say is more affordable and of good quality. Nothing is more fulfilling than knowing that what we contribute makes a significant difference. The field we are in connects us with other people. Success is never a one-person job. As humans, we are designed for connection and communication, and selling our Q-ton cooking oil, makes us connect and communicate with people from different backgrounds.”

So where to from here? Are any new ideas or products in the pipeline? We engage and socialise outside our normal circles, and this helps us generate new ideas for getting our business out there. Reading and following new trends also help us develop new ideas.”

Could there be a pattern or formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? Mutele says Yes, there’s a formula as an entrepreneur. She explains that as an entrepreneur, you need to be consistent and more disciplined, especially concerning finances. “Your customers are a crucial asset of any business and need to be treated with respect and dignity. Never be afraid to redress your missteps. Finally, separate your business finances from your finances.”

When one enjoys success in such a short period, one wonders if there are any satisfying moments. For Mutele launching Q-ton cooking oil was the most satisfying moment for her. She concludes, “You can have ideas, but if you keep procrastinating, you might end up with the idea and not a business. So it’s very satisfying when you see something that was just an idea becoming a tangible reality.”

Mutele’s business and drive highlights the importance of market research and that it’s a critical puzzle piece if one wants to fill a gap and capitalise on a customer need successfully.

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