At the age of 19, Tony Mafokwane did not wait until he passed grade 12 to follow his dream of becoming an entrepreneur.
He used the money he has been saving up to produce a few bottles of wine.
Now he owns his own winery and has scored a distribution deal to sell his wine far and wide.
Mafokwane, who hails from Lebowakgomo in Polokwane, Limpopo, started his wine business, O’skae Tshola Winery (OT Winery) while he was waiting for his matric results, which have been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He told Vutivi News that he decided on starting a winery because he developed a fascination for the art of making wine.
“My parents passed away when I was young, so my older brother was taking care of me,” he said.
“Before my parents died, I was saving my pocket money because I knew that I wanted to start a business.
“After they died, my brother assumed the role of caregiver, and started sending me money to survive on, as I was staying alone in Tzaneen at that time.”
Mafokwane said that he moved to Lebowakgomo when he was doing grade 10.
After saving for two years, he finally saw that he had enough money to start a business.
Mafokwane also said that O’skae Tshola started as a motivational page on Facebook, and when he saw the overwhelming support he received from strangers, he knew that he had to use the brand for something meaningful.
“I started a clothing brand, called O’skae Tshola Clothing,” he said.
“The love for wine comes from a great desire I had of taking it a step further.
“I tried to approach investors, but because I did not have a business plan nobody wanted to fund me.
“I combined the money that I made from selling T-shirts and my savings and embarked on a journey to create wine,” he also said.
Mafokwane said that when he approached South Africa Breweries in Polokwane, all he had with him was his dream.
“I didn’t have a business plan, a budget or a proposal,” he said, laughing.
“I walked in there and I told them that I wanted to make wine. “They recommended that I produce one test bottle to show them that I can produce wine.”
Mafokwane said that he set upon his journey to produce the sample that was needed.
“I went to a vineyard in Groblersdal and bought a crate of grapes,” he said.
Tony said that he then took a quick crash course on wine-making.
“I didn’t even know a single thing that came with making wine,” he remarked.
“I went on YouTube and searched how to make wine,” he said.
He said the first type of alcohol he used for his wine was gin in June, and when the month ended, I approached the brewery.”
Mafokwane said that he produced a bottle of dry-red wine and presented it to the brewery.
“They were so impressed that they immediately placed an order of 100 bottles of wine to be produced at their own factory, and if I was able to sell 100 bottles, they would help me start my own winery,” he said.
SAB assisted Tony with three second-hand machines: a labelling machine, a bottling machine and a grape-washing machine.
He said that his brand was launched in November, and he was able to sell more than 100 bottles by Black Friday.
Mafokwane said that he produced dry red wine, dry white, semi-sweet white and sweet rosé.
The money he made, plus his savings, enabled him to purchase his own land and plant his own vineyard, where he continued to produce the wine.
“We also deliver our wine nationally, and offer free delivery to customers that order six or more bottles,” he said.
Vutivi is a digital business news platform that will serve the Small Medium Micro Enterprises in the form of writing stories that will be informative about their sector. We pledge to deliver a commercially sustainable, world-class digital financial and business news service that is a must-read while being responsive to readership needs and tailor-making packages for SMMEs.