The beckoning aroma from the kitchen pierces the midday heat as Maggie Setsetse of Kitchen Kapei settles on a bench to begin our interview.
Her bustling kitchen is hard to miss opposite the Reformed Dutch Church on Kaunda road. But if you do happen to miss it, just follow your nose!
Before the interview can commence, a customer walks in and wants to confirm he has come to the right place. “I’m from Maun on business here and I’ve heard a lot about this place and its food so I thought I’d check it out,” he declares, nodding his head in approval as he surveys the scene.
Once that’s out the way, Setsetse explains she quit her lucrative job at the Diamond Trading Company to pursue her dream of ‘giving pleasure to taste buds’.“One of the goals I set for myself was to retire at 50 and pursue business. I’ve always had this entrepreneurial urge to make a difference, especially for the unemployed youth,” she states, adding she is from a family that is passionate about food – a passion passed down from her mother.
Things began to fall into place when her son,Thato completed his Tourism and Hospitality Management course in Namibia, where he majored as a chef. “After school he spent a year at home preparing dishes that made me look forward to going home without fail!
It just made perfect sense to help him while also pursuing my passion so we partnered and the Kitchen Kapei was born in August 2018,” she says, beaming with obvious pride. Magsetz Catering and Events Management Services, which tradesas Kitchen Kapei, serves sit-in meals for breakfast lunch and dinner.
They also offer catering and equipment hire with five employees. A little over a year in operation and the establishment counts President Dr. MokgweetsiMasisi as a past customer.
His Excellency enjoyed a taste of Kitchen Kapei when he was guest speaker at Mookane Field Day earlier this year. Other satisfied clients include the capital city council, government departments and corporations.
In an over-subscribed industry, the business faces competition from other restaurants, outdoor catering companies as well as the vendors who sell braai.
As a unique selling point in an attempt to get ahead of the competition, Setsetse says they provide delivery for a minimum of four plates around Gaborone. They also interact with customers and potentials on social media as well as word of mouth.
“Once you’ve tasted our food, you don’t want to go anywhere else!” she adds. However, competition isn’t the only challenge for this family business, which was financed by Setsetse’s savings.
She is struggling to securefurther financing and a shade of despair passes across her face as she notes, “Financing is difficult when you are not employed.”The issue of tender pricing presents another challenge. “Bidders do not know the budget of the tender; instead the lowest bidder wins,” she mutters darkly.
This does not sit well with Setsetse, who feels there should be more to consider, such as factoring all the variables. “Bidders should be made aware of the budget!” she reiterates. While Setsetse can do nothing about financing except continue digging from her own pocket, she makes sure their distinct taste does the talking for them.
“Where they tasted our food they gave us the jobs,” is her simple assessment. She recently graduated from Tokafala initiative aimed at improving local business performance and feels ready to take on the world.
If things go according to her plan, five years from now Kitchen Kapei will be a one-stop shop for occasions providing menu, deco, photography, DJ, event hosting and kitchen parties. She also intends to open two more branches in Palapye and Gaborone.
For those planning to go into business, especially the food sector, Setsetse maintains it is possible, providing there is passion and focus. “The first two years of every business are challenging but don’t give up. Focus such that you will persevere and have faith. Things will work out!”
This is clearly a confident entrepreneur who doesn’t believe in just telling but giving a taste of her words. To demonstrate that, a mouth-watering plate of Beef Goulash, chicken and pasta lands before yours truly.