Best Projects 2021 features all the nominated entries submitted ‘Submit your Project’ category. All the entries consist of innovative projects run by existing enterprises in the form of businesses, NGOs or informal programs.
Published on September 29, 2021 um 09:07
Co-founder & CEO
Type of Enterprise
Year the ngo or company was founded
Explain your project in details:
Prior to the onset of COVID-19, Matawi was poised for a B2B, predominantly on-consumption, to-market launch initially in the Western Cape and then nationally. The Cape was singled out for having the countrys highest number of awarded and high-end hospitality establishments, which enjoy widespread local and international support, capable of absorbing our premium price-point, attributable to high input costs coupled with micro-production volumes. Matawi opted for this strategy because mead is a largely unknown and under-appreciated segment in the South African market, motivating for a product showcase through curated food pairings, which would enable sommeliers to educate consumers on the holistic appeal of the Matawi mead range. The pandemic and its associated restrictions, most notably prohibitions on alcohol sales, precipitated a wholesale shift: we have built an e-commerce platform (https://www.matawi.co.za/new), listed with online marketplaces (BrownSense Africa, Takealot, Beverage Trade Network), and partnered with distributors and merchandisers to expedite our entry into regional and international markets. The advantage of this, previously overlooked by Matawis management team, is a financial forecast of more consistent cashflow and expansive revenue growth than would have been availed by consignment terms. This is also lends itself to our fundraising efforts to facilitate the expansion of our production capabilities, in order to pursue large retail listings sooner than anticipated. The implication of these multiple sales channels means Matawi can incorporate more rural women and youth into its supply chain, offering secured market access at fair prices; it also means the creation of more job opportunities, from low-ranking to highly technical, making a positive contribution to the alleviation of South Africas entrenched poverty and inequality, which is the highest in the world.
Impact of your enterprise on sustainable development
MATAWI (Pty) Ltd is a 100% black woman owned and managed alcoholic honey beverage company, which was incorporated in 2018. The Matawi range comprises a honey ale (braggot), a variety of flavours of still, distilled (honey gin), fortified (honey liqueur) and carbonated meads. The range is intentionally all-encompassing as it aims to attract the widest possible range of consumers, encroaching considerably into the market share of less water-conserving forms of alcohol. This expansive mead collection enables Matawi to create a value chain that facilitates market access at assured fair prices to African beekeepers, producers of fruits, herbs, and botanicals, and artisans. A priority of Matawis fundraising efforts is to ensure the capacitation and sustainable certification of identified suppliers (and in due course, replicating this model across the continent). Matawis expansion will also provide a broad range of employment opportunities (from unskilled to highly technical). Matawi's preferred business strategy has meant a slower, more thoughtful roll-out, supported (initially) solely by founder's capital contributions to ensure that the company does not deviate from its vision. The value of this strategy was affirmed by the private bank, Investec, which awarded Matawi R100,000 for the winning pitch in a competition concluding Startup School Africa's Incubation Programme. This was also the synergy identified by Responsible 100, which has invited Matawi to participate in a global initiative involving an audit of operations, identification of sustainability imperatives, formulation of indicators to track progress and document Matawis case study to facilitate its benchmarking against other participating organisations. Ultimately, Matawi's founders seek to establish a company with an enduring legacy, which lifts people and communities out of poverty, generates sufficient profit to plow back into development initiatives, entrenches an aspirational African brand globally beloved, which becomes synonymous with celebration - of leisure, dowry negotiations, births, honeymoons, graduations, weddings, deaths, coming-of-age-ceremonies
Sustainability and future plans
Matawi is a for-profit venture with a clear environmental and social ethos: our range seeks, foremost, to contribute to water conservation, while securing the ancillary benefits of promoting responsible production and consumption and creating employment and income-generating opportunities to help alleviate South Africas entrenched poverty and inequality. Matawis appreciation for the increased commodification of water, its growing scarcity, and anticipated contestation for access is not merely intellectual: Matawi is headquartered in Cape Town, which in 2018 experienced its worst drought in over a century, introducing the real possibility of day zero marking the exhaustion of the citys potable water supply. Matawi has opted to perceive this threat as an opportunity: mead uses water exclusively for production, translating to <10% of the water required to produce beer, vodka, gin, wine, etc.; our patent-protected production technique circumvents many of the constraints associated with fermenting honey, presenting scale-up capabilities vastly exceeding those of most meaderies; our technical team includes seasoned wine-makers and distillers, whose skillsets allow us to create a more refined mead range, widely commended by local sommeliers who attest that we can expect considerable commercial success. Matawis environmental commitment runs through the companys DNA, extending to the exclusive use of recycled and recyclable materials; the establishment of a sustainable operation and supply chain, pursuit of certification attesting to the same; and intentionality in the structuring of the business, which from the onset has adopted a triple bottom line approach that places the planet and people ahead of profits In short, Matawi aims to encroach on the market share and dent the water consumption of established liquor brands; providing conscious consumers with a way to enjoy libations safe in the knowledge this does not compromise freshwater resources needed to sustain food crops and humanity.
Your profile as an entrepreneur
As co-founder of Matawi, I abandoned a fifteen year career in human rights to pursue this venture full-time. I realized that inasmuch as I had contributed to the formulation and reform of several human rights frameworks and policies, these effected change at a glacial pace I rarely saw practical changes to the material circumstances of the people for whom these documents were ostensibly created. I wanted, in my lifetime, to observe the direct correlation between my efforts and their (positive and tangible) impacts on other people and the planet. Coming from a donor-dependent sector, I also realized the unconstrained potential self-generated profits avail. This hasn't been easy, as I have neither a theoretical nor practical background in business. But it has helped tremendously to have a clearly defined environmental and social purpose serving as Matawi's orienting compass: this has helped me to keep sight of my why, even as day-to-day demands and pandemic pressures threaten to overwhelm! As a forty year old, I now have a sustained commitment and resolve to see Matawi succeed well beyond my lifetime.