While many business owners threw up their hands in despair when level 5 lockdown was announced, Riversands entrepreneur Sipamandla Manqele was not one of them! She doubled down in her efforts to obtain additional listings with online platforms as a way to continue her business.
“The market for online shopping in South Africa has been boosted as a result of lockdown and the more consumers realise how convenient it is, the more growth we’ll see,” commented Manqele.
Local Village sources a variety of indigenous African ingredients from North, West, East and Southern Africa to produce health foods such as teff, a naturally gluten-free fine grain identified by WWF as one of the top future foods. When ground, the flour can be used for bread and other baking.
Manqele managed to extend the number of online platforms carrying Local Village products and is now focusing on signing deals with major retailers for more traditional distribution. “The online listings have proved to be an excellent way to become known in the health market. We already have a number of health food stores stocking our range and this has been a powerful lever for an entry into retail chain stores,” said Manqele.
Local Village was founded on a vision of creating a network of local agri-preneurs across the African continent supplying equitably sourced and sustainably grown indigenous African ingredients to the global village. The business was established in 2016 and has now reached the point where it is ready to be scaled. “During lockdown, I’ve been able to maintain my team and consolidate my base while strategising about my future plans. With more customers online, the blog on my website with recipe suggestions has worked well.
As well as making bread, many people are trying new (to them) ingredients such as Bambara beans, which work extremely well in a curry,” remarked Manqele.