Taking on the multi-billion rand catering sector

JOHANNESBURG – A young team of businesswomen has banded together to change the face of the multi-billion rand catering sector in South Africa.

Mathapelo Montsho and Yolanda Nomoyi are co-founders of catering company Why Cook, which they established at Fourways in Johannesburg in 2014, as a vehicle to venture into entrepreneurship.

The award-winning company specialises in small to large event catering, corporate meals and private dinners for corporate citizens and the country’s A-list celebrities, among others.

Montsho, 30, and Nomoyi, 34, say they met at a mutual friend’s party and soon started talking about their passion for entrepreneurship. 

It is their synergy that ultimately led them at the front and centre of this highly competitive industry, which generated more than R57.26 billion in revenue in 2016, according to Stats SA.

Montsho explains why they target corporate companies: “We saw a gap in the corporate space in terms of food having flavour, because a lot of employees complain about how horrible their canteen food is.”

She attributes this to the fact that a lot of canteens in the corporate space are not black-owned.

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Young entrepreneurs Mathapelo Montsho and Yolanda Nomoyi are co-founders of award-winning catering company Why Cook in Johannesburg. Image: Supplied.
“We want to change that by cooking homely meals such as traditional beef curry instead of beef stews.”

Their clients include banking giant Absa, free-to-air channel eTV, Italian luxury fashion house Giorgio Armani, multinational beauty care company L’Oréal South Africa, radio station YFM, and Airports Company South africa, among others.

The businesswomen did catering for the Feather Awards co-founder and socialite Thami Dish’s birthday party on April 8. 

Last month they catered for an event organised by Sony Music Africa executive head Zakes Bantwini, the country’s foremost platinum selling artist and producer.

On February 28, Montsho and Nomoyi walked away with the prestigious Rocket Fuel Award during the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme awards ceremony. 

The award was recognising the business that has shown the highest sustained income growth over the programme period.

Nomoyi says they do catering for clients across the country especially in provinces such as Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Western Cape. “We want to have a firm footing in the country first before considering expanding into the SADC region,” she says.

image - Taking on the multi-billion rand catering sector
Young entrepreneurs Mathapelo Montsho and Yolanda Nomoyi are co-founders of award-winning catering company Why Cook in Johannesburg. Image: Supplied.
Montsho agrees, saying: “We waant to sustain our business by not losing the quality of the food that we cook. We need to invest time and effort in building our brand in each and every province.” 

She says they are eyeing setting up shop in Cape Town and Durban in the short to medium term.

“This is something we have been working. We want to make sure that we understand the market in Durban before setting up a branch, which we hope to do by June next year.” 

Montsho says Durban is a strategic city for them as the metro plays host annually to big events in the social calendar.

“Another factor that led us to decide on Durban is because of the enquiries we have been getting from that part of the country. People and potential clients have been asking us: ‘How can we get hold of you?’.”

She says people love their food and that their work ethic speaks for itself. The pair say they employ six permanent staff members and 15 temporary workers, who are mostly youth, as means to dent the scourge of youth unemployment in the country.

Besides cooking, the businesswoman also share a love of travelling and academia. Nomoyi is doing an MBA through Regent Business School and has been to the UK, Spain, New York and Kenya.

Montsho, for her part, is studying towards a doctorate degree in business through The Da Vinci Institute, and has toured Dubai, India, Kenya and Lesotho.

The pair says their long-term goal is to have a solid presence in four provinces in the next five to 10 years.

“That would be good for us because sustainability is key in any business,” says Montsho, who hails from Mohlakeng in Randfontein.

“Entrepreneurship is not an easy job, but it’s a worthwhile journey because whatever comes easy goes easy.”

Nomoyi, who hails from Pietermaritzburg, says there are plenty of opportunities for small businesses in the country. 

“We must not always expect handouts from the government. We must be prepared to put in the hard work in order to attract success.”


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