“Take care of your customers because if you help people get what they want, they can help YOU get what you want.”
Klaudia Mwechininga Mukete is an entrepreneur and the founder of Mwechy’s Salsa Sauce and Mwechy’s Catering Services.
She grew up in Tsumeb and Oshakati. After completing high school, she went on to study and obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Public Management and an Honors degree in Business Management. She has several years of working experience, from the Ministry of Lands and Resettlements, the Ministry of Home Affairs & Immigration and the Ministry of Finance, where she currently works.
However, the kitchen connoisseur could not escape her passion, who says, “My relationship with cooking began at a very early age of 10. I grew up and got married and started falling more in love with cooking. It became my way to unwind and relax after a long day at work. The more I cooked for myself and my family, the more I wanted to learn. I’ve learned to cook very well through trial and error. Cooking can literally boost your creativity. I just love it! I enjoy experimenting with new recipes and learning new techniques. I truly have a passion for cooking; all I want to do is to fulfil my purpose on this earth through my God-given talent.”
Tell us more about Mwechy’s Salsa Sauce, what inspired you to start this business, the services you offer as well as the team behind your startup (if any).
“Cooking is, and has always been my passion – it’s my calling! Growing up, I always knew I loved cooking and it came naturally for me. I enjoy cooking, and feel quite competent at it. I don’t even mind spending hours in the kitchen, where I create unique recipes: Mwechy’s Sauce being one of them. Mwechy’s Salsa Sauce was founded in my small kitchen at Okakwa village, on the 21st of May 2020.
After I got married and had my own home, I found my most comfortable place to be the kitchen. There, I played around with food and often I would post it on my WhatsApp and Instagram; friends and colleagues would applaud my dishes and encourage me to start a restaurant or catering business. Eventually, I began to cater to those close to me.
However, as a result of the lockdown, we were put into shifts at work. During my off-days, I would develop various recipes, try out many ingredients in my cupboard and I continued to post them on my WhatsApp status. Once again, my colleagues praised me and eventually convinced me to cater to them by supplying lunch that they would buy. I would use the money to buy more ingredients and kept playing in my kitchen.
One day, I prepared a hot rice salad for my colleagues’ orders (rice that you can eat without sauce). However, knowing many people would not understand, I thought to make a salsa on the side. To my surprise, the first group finished the salsa before others and they spoke highly of it.
Being inconsistent with my orders played into my favour as someone from our area came up with the idea to sell form the back of her car, including to my colleagues. This extra time was diverted to developing new recipes for salsa which I used on family and friends’. The enthusiasm and positive responses continued until my sister decided she would design a poster for advertising. It was after the poster when the vision became clear. I started packaging and selling to people around me, and I was blessed to have an old friend of mine design stickers for my bottles, and another designed my labelled apron.
I was still not of the marketing idea until a young girl, (8 years old) whose mummy (family friend) bought a salsa, made a video using the salsa on her bread and said she would use it on all her food because it was the best. I cried that day and decided that if I have to advertise, kids would be my ideal models because of their pure hearts and honesty. This was affirmed by my eldest daughter who one day came to me and told me that she sees my salsa going places because it is the best and that it complimented my lovely food too!
The Mwechy Salsa Sauce currently comes in 12 different flavours, including:
- Mwechy’s Plain Sauce
- Spicy Hot
- Extra Spicy Hot
- Coconut Plain or Hot
- Mint Hot or Plain
- Peanut Plain or Hot
- Banting Plain or Hot
All our sauces are made out of fresh vegetables and mint from my garden. Mwechy’s original flavours can be used on everything, however Mint is best for rice, fish and pasta dishes. Our recently introduced flavours are Peanut (plain and hot) and Banting-friendly sauce.”
What challenges have you encountered on your entrepreneurial journey and how did you overcome some of them?
“I have face several challenges on this journey, and those included:
- self-doubt & fear;
- sourcing start-up capital and funds for growth;
- perfecting my recipes;
- finding a customer base, as well as the time to devote to my business;
- dealing with difficult customers and debtors.
I am the cook, the recipe developer, making everything from scratch and believe me, it’s not easy! However, I am lucky to have people who recognised my talent and gift for cooking, encouraging me to stop living in fear and to chase my dream.
I believe I have God’s guidance because He chose me for a reason, He gave me this gift for a reason. I believe in this dream, I believe in my passion and purpose for this business. So, against all odds, I soldier on because I am doing it out of love.”
What advice would you give to someone trying to break into this industry?
“This business can be difficult, time consuming and draining and is not an avenue to walk through if you’re doing it just to make a buck. You may, or may not, but your heart has to be in it to get you through the tough times.
- Start slow, be patient and do you;
- Don’t be in desperate spot
- Take time to perfect your recipe, while also protecting its uniqueness;
- Know what your customers want and take care of them by creating long, lasting relationships;
- Do not be afraid to reach out – you can even try to find a mentor;
- Know your worth!
Please don’t just break into this industry because of money because it requires effort and determination.”
Do you have a business philosophy? If so, what is it?
“I have a few philosophies when it comes to my business:
- To create and live my ‘secret sauce’. I do not want to copy; I want my recipes to be original and unique in the world;
- To take care of your customers because if you help people get what they want, they can help YOU get what you want;
- To associate myself with like-minded people;
- Don’t stop when you’re tired – stop when you are done!
I want my sauce company to one day be the best in Namibia and internationally!”
What are the company values that have been integral in getting you this far?
“I deeply value perseverance, honesty, delivering quality, healthy products and timeliness (deliveries, and so on).”
One often hears of poor customer service & experiences in start-ups; what measures do you have in place to ensure the best experience for your customers?
“I offer my customers free, timely deliveries. I also make provision for Q&As with my customers, in order to hear, consider & implement their criticisms and suggestions.
I made sure to offer my products at an affordable price while maintaining their quality.”
What recommendations would you make towards the advancement of start-ups, and/or the improvement of their operating conditions?
“The government needs to do more to support start-ups, an action that could work towards saving our economy. Moreover, having more manufacturing businesses to support the industry in the country will lead to an increase of the GDP, and, revenue streams will continue flowing into the country rather than to foreign countries.
Further recommendations would be 1) direct grants and zero–interest loans, 2) equity-free cash and 3) more workshops on entrepreneurship for start-ups, and are all important.”
In 2020, entrepreneurs lived through a tumultuous period with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic; what was your biggest business lesson that you can share?
“COVID-19 carried negative impact across several businesses but it also brought positive impacts to many. In my case, during lockdown, I was afforded the time I needed to play & experiment in the kitchen, bringing about the birth of Mwechy’s Sauce.
Anybody in business needs to know that when situations change, we need to be able to diversify our product & service range. Always have a back-up strategy or business idea so that when one doesn’t work out, you move onto the next. Remember to embrace change!”
Cell: +264 81 205 1841
Facebook: Mwechy’s Salsa Sauce
Personal Pages: Klaudia Shimwe Mukete (Facebook) | @____klaudy (Instagram)