By: Tebogo Mokwena
While many South Africans have been affected by the soaring cooking oil prices due to the war in Ukraine, Queeneth Mutele and her husband, David, have taken advantage of the situation to ensure that township residents can afford oil. The launch of their product, Q-ton Cooking Oil, was delayed due to the Covis-19 pandemic. But this year they decided it was time to start their business in Pretoria.
“The business idea was initially just an idea, but when we saw how the need for affordable cooking oil became a reality, we decided to work on the idea,” Mutele told Vutivi News. “Currently we work with a company based in Johannesburg which manufactures the oil. “We then package and brand it and sell it to township-based retail stores like spaza shops in Gauteng and Limpopo,” she said. Mutele is no stranger to starting businesses, as she grew up in an entrepreneurial environment.
An HR practitioner in the military by profession, Mutele said that she was already trying to make money at school. “The first thing I sold in my life was braaied boerewors. My mother used to buy the boerewors roll for me and I would go house-to-house, selling it,” she said. “The business grew for a while, and at the same time my parents opened a spaza shop, so I became more exposed to the entrepreneurship environment,” Mutele said that running a business was a different experience compared to being employed.
“Every day presents its own challenges and lessons, as I learn a lot from the experiences I share with my customers,” she said. “I also enjoy the element of being independent and managing my own time,” Mutele said the business was funded from her own pocket, and financing it was a big challenge when they started out. “Other challenges centre around not being trusted as a brand and competing with bigger brands,” she said. “People were sceptical since our brand is relatively new, but over time the support for the business grew and we are slowly being recognised.”
Mutele noted that being able to successfully launch the business and the product was a milestone. “Starting a business and getting it off the ground is not an easy feat,” she pointed out. “I also love the fact that our clients always give us feedback, and the feedback has been largely positive,” Mutele told Vutivi News that she aims on supplying bigger retail stores with her cooking oil and competing with well-known brands.