BY TAURAI MANGUDHLA
AGAINST the millions of Zimbabweans who fled the country to neighboring South Africa in search of employment opportunities, a team of entrepreneurs set out to make their own story.
Their was a dream.
They did not land in Johannesburg to look for work, to earn a living.
Instead, they were determined to make their dream of running a distillery come true.
Their idea was to break into the South African spirits and wine market and claim a significant share of it.
Armed with their vision, skills, passion, faith, determination and a little bit of capital, they decided to follow their dreams and their passion.
Today, they proudly show off the awards they’ve earned along the way, as a demonstration of that hard work and focus, even against all odds.
To their advantage, the Southern African market has grown accustomed to their products and they are convinced that the future is bright.
Zimbabwean and Mozambican nationals including an architect, accountant and project manager partnered with a South African national who specializes in banking and finance to produce various brands of alcohol for the African regional market southern.
Today they prefer to be called the Pofera family.
They left for South Africa in 2005 and 16 years later they are proud to be shareholders and managers of their company, Masau Craft Distillery.
From humble beginnings, the team worked for years to raise capital, then borrowed half of their capital needs from banks.
“It was 50% bank financing and the rest had to be raised through equity, which is employment in our case,” Lameck Garonga said in a telephone interview.
Last year, Masau’s Wooded Brandy received a bronze medal in the brandy category and the launch of the new brand – design and packaging at the International Spirits Challenge 2020.
This distinction came after a rigorous evaluation process that saw more than 50 category experts come together for an intense blind tasting session.
Garonga said that Masau Craft Distillery has provided a unique range of premium quality artisan African spirits.
Careful hand selection of Masau fruit begins the process of a handcrafted Masau spirit. He said that every year, every season and every winter was unique, as was the uniqueness of their minds. Created using traditional recipes and artisanal techniques, this premium brandy range is unique and exclusive to Southern Africa.
Masau Craft Distillery produces Masau Golden Gin, Masau Vodka, Masau Golden Liqueur and Masau Spirit Aperitif.
The young company now employs six people, half of whom are women.
“We hope to see positive results from the launch date, as we already have a good follow-up on Instagram and Facebook“Garonga said.
Giving context to their trip, Garonga said the Pofera family settled in Zimbabwe from Mozambique where they fermented and distilled Masau to make alcoholic spirits used for family functions and traditional ceremonies.
After moving to Zimbabwe and working in mines and farms, the family continued to distill the spirit for the sake of family and close friends.
This family heirloom of craftsmanship and distillation by the Pofera family now belongs to the 3rd generation who turned this family hobby into an artisanal distillery in South Africa.
The 4th generation is formed from the local level of Masau fruit tree farming that will start to bear fruit in five years when Masau aims to launch its first whiskey to the world in 2027.
âAt Masau Craft Distillery, we bring you a unique range of premium handcrafted African spirits.
âThe artisanal Masau distillery is owned by the family and close associates. A board of directors is responsible for the day-to-day functions of the company, âGaronga said.
Garonga said that in the African context, the Masau circular mark, circular dots, with herringbone patterns on which the Masau trademark is based, symbolized the continuity, the infinity of the natural product of the Masau fruit that God gave to humanity for its pleasure.
He said that in Africa the circular design was considered to be as beautiful as the sun which testifies to the fact that sunrise and sunset were as beautiful due to their color and shape as a full circle.
âFor the African artist, a circle is a pure form, which is why Africans did not make rectangular or right-angled artefacts – our huts, cattle pens, utensils testify to this. African eyes have been trained to appreciate the beauty inherent in objects displaying a circular design – this means that from the start, functionality and aesthetics were married, âhe added.
According to estimates by the organization Zimbabwe Community in SA (ZCSA), lobby group MyRight2Vote and others, around three million Zimbabweans live in South Africa.
There is every reason to believe that the majority of them are irregular migrants, but many of them, as in the case of successful winegrowers, do well as budding entrepreneurs, and not as seekers. ‘use.
ZCSA President Ngqabutho Mabhena said there were several Zimbabwean migrants who ran small and medium-sized businesses while they were irregular residents.
âThe requirement is to have (enough capital) to qualify for a settlement permit. It should have been done outside of SA. The challenge we have is that we have businessmen who have assets or money, but because they reside in South Africa, they are not eligible for a business license.
We hope that the White Paper on International Migration recognizes that these migrants in the Sadc region, even if they are not eligible, should be allowed to run businesses in South Africa, âMabhena said.
âThe White Paper on International Migration offers a Sadc work visa. We believe that once it is operational, these migrants or businessmen will then be qualified to apply for the Sadc visa so that they can run their businesses.
This process started in 2015, the White Paper was published in the Official Journal in 2017 and is before Parliament. The reason to examine the White Paper on International Migration as adopted in 1999 was the realization that South Africa’s immigration policy is Eurocentric and does not accommodate Africans, nor is it Pan-Africanist in its own right. its prospects, âMabhena said.
âSo the White Paper on International Migration published in the Official Journal in 2017 recognizes that migration is a global phenomenon, that in the Sadc region there are low-skilled people who are flocking to South Africa for jobs. opportunities and these people would not normally be qualified to regularize their stay in South Africa. South Africa under current immigration law. It then makes arrangements or proposals to document low-skilled people, âhe added.
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