CAPE TOWN - “A space for people’s space” is how Mlondolozi Hempe, marketing direction and sales at UkhambaBeerWorx, describes Ukhamba.
“I mean we live of the African saying of ‘umntu ngumntu ngababantu’. We believe the people who create our environment make us who we are. It’s a social space where we meet, discuss ideas around good beer and food. Ukhamba is home.”
The craft brewery founded by brewer Lethu Tshabangu in July 2017 saw the birth of a gleaming new craft brewery in The Palms Lifestyle Centre in the Cape Town suburb of Woodstock.
Tshabangu, who started off as a waiter, says he saw an opportunity in the production industry and bought books and started to network with people to learn more about the brewing industry back in 2013.
“What inspired the business other than motivation is necessity, the need to have the first black-owned craft brewery in the mother city,” says Hempe. An additional ingredient is curiosity that is inspired by a long tradition of beer making in the African culture. “This led to a question: Can we make contemporary beer with traditional beer-making ingredients. The answer was yes.”
UkhambaBeerWorx operates under the philosophy of being honest and genuine about what the brand is who represents it. “It is built on the virtues of its founder Tshabangu – an open, honest and genuine individual who is taking us along on his journey of making the best African beer in the country,” explains Hempe.
Among UkhambaBeerWorx’s greatest achievements is being named Beer of the Month at Hudsons Burger Joint last November and “having our beer distributed to all the Hudson branches nationally Cape Town, Durban and Joburg”.
In addition to this Hempe says: “Creating a space that is socially acceptable to our peers as well as having people who we work with and look up to nodding and saying they are happy with the offering being presented to them.
The company’s long-term strategy is to create pop-up breweries around the country that carry the concept and philosophy of Ukhamba to other Africans, the idea of sharing and creating a space where people are welcomed and treated with the respect they deserve. “This is apart from our goal of increasing our market share and making certain concepts that are held dearly to us accessible to all,” says Hempe.
Being one of the well established, staple beer brands in the country and easily recognisable as a beer brand is where the Ukhamba team sees the company in five years. Hempe says: “We see ourselves being a key contributor to the creative market in the country as key collaborators with other creative brands and developing our country.”
Being experimental by nature the team introduced a premixed gin and tonic where they experimented with making their own home-made tonic. “It was a hit and a miss to some clients and its something that we have put on pause while we develop the idea,” Hempe explains.
“The reason for this was to satisfy a customer need for gin as well as tapping into the growing Cape Town gin market. Other than that at Ukhamba, we try to be creative as much as possible and we believe this is what sets us apart from our competition. We aren't scared of playing around with ideas as most of us are creatives,” he says.
Key members of the team are Tshabangu, the founder, Hempe, marketing and sales, and Phumezo Stwayi, accounts.
The company distributes to various beer outlets at the V&A Waterfront as well as national outlets such as Hudson Restaurant, Beerhouse and League of Beer, to name a few.
- BUSINESS REPORT