By Sisipho Pinyana
Driven by pandemic unemployment and with two children to feed, Malwande Bebeza founded
“Granny’s Gingerbeer” in 2021. Drawing on his Mthatha and Johannesburg upbringing, Bebeza was inspired by his mother’s love of making ginger beer for their family.
He is exceptionally passionate about entrepreneurship and ready to take the industry by storm. His product is not mainstream; he used to sell ginger beer in Coke bottles. Now, he designs his
bottles and labels while keeping the homemade essence.
Receiving aid from his local community has helped Bebeza’s business skyrocket in Makhanda and beyond. “I was walking and was recognized by a child from Nyaluza High School who called me Mr Ginger Beer, remembering that I once went to their school and talked to them about my business. I never knew I could be well-known and it has made me a better person”, he says.
“I have worked closely with twenty shops in Port Alfred, Alexandria, and Kenton-On-Sea,” he adds, “…and a place I have never heard of called Kleinmond.” Upon considering Makhanda’s landscape, he adds, “Around Makhanda, I know we are at the Theatre Cafe, Sweet and Salty, Major Fraser’s Craft Bar, and the Ten Cross Shoppe,” he said. He also sells the product at Jackie’s Supermarket opposite Soccer City in Fingo, and in Hlalani and Tantyi. “I haven’t mentioned them all; it’s a lot”, he says.
Bebeza lives by the proverb, “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” He values being in a good mood at work and says he always addresses his employees with respect, compassion, and enthusiasm. Bebeza is no tough boss and he does not dwell on mistakes, instead encouraging the good in all his employees.
“We have four employees at the moment” who help make and distribute the ginger around town, he said. He works with the Social Employment Fund currently, who seconds four employees to him and in exchange, Bebeza mentors the employees in business skills.
The programme started in July 2022 through the Assumption Development Centre (ADC); he says all four employees are small business entrepreneurs who want to work with formal business. Bebeza teaches them how to turn an idea into a business, as people initially do not have that “start-up” courage.
When speaking about the next growth steps for his business, Bebeza says he would love to open a branch in Port Alfred. However, there is an issue with transporting the ginger beer there. He understands that funds are limited and says, “This isn’t a government job where you can do dreams with the money.”
But “Granny’s Ginger Beer” has become more than about the money for Bebeza. It is a real passion to see people enjoy his ginger beer. He says people are often surprised to find out it is a Black male-owned business because the name suggests a granny makes it. Bebeza adds that he helps other companies with their marketing strategies but allows customers also to see the faces behind the products.
His plans include distributing nationally by opening a factory someday. Apart from community support, Bebeza says the secret to his success is grit, determination, resilience, and remembering why he started – a more significant cause. When asked for advice, Bebeza often tells people to “just start” and figure it out as they go. Having dreams is easy; taking action will be the actual test. If you believe in making something, starting small or from nowhere doesn’t mean you won’t reach the top. Believe and keep on dreaming.