Feature by Khanyisa Tyelela
To maintain the authenticity of traditional ginger-beer making, chemical engineer Mpho Mohaswa founded Precious and Pearl Brands, a business that makes concentrate ginger beer, a recipe she learnt from her mother-in-law.
As a former chemical engineer Mpho was frustrated by the corporate environment and decided to leave her job and pursue more interesting projects, like opening her own business.
Rooted in tradition, Precious and Pearl Brands brew a popular, homemade ginger beer (also known as Gemere) enjoyed at weddings, funerals and family gatherings.
“The idea of selling Gemere was to bring convenience and to preserve a traditional recipe that is slowly being lost because the knowledge has not been passed on from the older generation to the younger generation. It also takes 12 hours to prepare and people are just frustrated by the process of making it.
This delicious drink is normally brought out to impress the all-important elders at family functions and is really simple to make.
Mpho says she caught the entrepreneurship bug at the age of 10 and shares how it all started.
“My love for entrepreneurship was inspired by my dad; when I was young, he would buy me a bulk supply of chips that I repackaged and sold during sports day at school, even though I would eat stock at times,” says Mpho.
Although she had a full-time job as a chemical engineer, Mpho continued selling products like Herbalife and perfumes.
Mpho has big plans to expand and employ more people.
“I am currently training my employee to make Gemere the traditional way. I will then bring in someone else to do the filling and labeling of the product,” says Mpho.
“I am also being assisted by the SAB Foundation’s Tholoana programme,” says Mpho.
The SAB Tholoana programme is an initiative that invests in entrepreneurs who show passion and commitment to growing the South African economy. The business support programme offers mentorship, business development workshops and seed funding. It also provides opportunities for women, persons with disabilities and youth in the rural areas.
Through help from the programme, Mpho is currently on track with some of her goals, including formalising and improving systems within her business.
In the meantime, Mpho is working on getting her Gemere into well-known chain stores like Pick n Pay, Boxer, Makro and Cambridge.
You will find Gemere on shelves at the Food Lover’s Market in Sunward Park, Boksburg.
They also have a reseller model where people buy at a discount and sell for profit.