It’s common wisdom that one should not count your chickens before they hatch, but in Kega Mukwhevo’s case you might want to. Not only does she work in tandem with South African chicken brand, Galito’s, she is also a co-founder of MKP Fast Foods and a recent finalist in the She Leads Africa business pitch competition.
Kega’s drive to succeed has become especially clear since her election as one of She Leads Africa’s top ten finalists. She happened upon the website of this Nigerian-based social enterprise after having her first taste of a business pitch competition at the annual Jamboree, an event organised by the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation. After this experience all she wanted to do was practice her business pitching skills. So she googled the words ‘pitch competitions’.
She wasn’t exactly looking for a women-centred competition, but Google or Fate led her to one anyway. This was particularly significant as Kega cringingly noticed that she was one of only three woman to have a top-ten position at the Jamboree. “I knew right there and then that I needed to rise up as a woman and empower myself in any way that I possibly can.” Entering this competition was certainly a step in the right direction.
The ten finalists of She Leads SA had six weeks to prepare for the concluding event where they would pitch their idea. This included training and business plan development with an assigned mentor. In Kega’s Case it was Juliana Taylor, CEO of Start Smart. They spoke to each other weekly, for about two to three hours at a time, discussing Kega’s business ideas regarding MKP Fast Foods. Derived from the initials of the founding members, Malatja Manthata, Kega and Phumlani Nkontwana, MKP Fast Foods creates youth employment in South Africa by operating a low-cost, scalable mobile kitchen for the chicken brand, Galito’s. Many of her peers and family members would agree that gravitating toward the food industry was inevitable for Kega; she was always selling cupcakes at school or doing the catering at family functions.
Even though Kega’s attention was divided between her studies (in B.Com Accounting) and prepping for the competition in this time, she never lost focus. Understanding the importance of attending classes – she is an audial and visual learner – she made going to class and tutorials non-negotiable. This rigid refusal to give in to the temptation of focusing on the more exciting business part of her day cost her a lot of sleep. “I was surviving on 2 or 3 hours of sleep per night preparing for the event. Sometimes no sleep.”
In addition to the six-week long preparation time, the finalists attended workshops in Lagos on various business topics, including branding, marketing and leadership. “I absorbed the entrepreneurship spirit in Lagos … the entrepreneurial bug bit me harder and it was there where I felt at home,” she says. In fact, she explains how everyone she met either had their own business or was starting a business on the side, balancing it with full-time jobs. “There is a yearning for success in business that lingers in the Lagos atmosphere … All I want to be is an entrepreneur and [this] energy [has just] fuelled my craving for business development.”
Being in Nigeria also allowed Kega to rub shoulders with the who’s who in the world of entrepreneurship. The finalists were invited to the home of Africa’s 40th richest man, Hakeem Belo-Osagie, and to the same event as Aliko Dangote – Africa’s richest man (as of November 2014). Many interactions like these left her with a strong network of contacts and various offers from venture capitalists and angel networks looking to invest in her endeavours or provide free marketing and life-long mentorships.
While the title of She Leads Africa went to the founder of Rare Customs, Cherae Robinson, there is no doubt that the other nine finalists walked away with invaluable business and life experience. This is clearly true of Kega who says the following of her future endeavours: “I have learned to see other opportunities and there are way too many!” She is well on her way to qualifying as a CA, having successfully completed her degree after the competition. Next up will be an Honours in Accounting. And this will happen alongside her plans to expand MKP Fast Foods and the business she has with her brother, K & I Cuisine Pty (Ltd).
It is already clear that, for Kega at least, 2015 will be both very busy and very full of her first love – good food!