When I think about a hot and fresh cup of coffee to kick off my morning, I feel an immense amount of joy, and I know that I am not alone. For many people all over the world, a cup of coffee is a necessity and helps them get through their day. It provides a boost of energy and it’s the perfect beverage for a quick date with an old friend. It can be enjoyed in many different ways. And, believe it or not, it even reduces the risk of heart disease.
Well, one smart young woman, mother, entrepreneur and all-round Superwoman, Neo Mosimane, decided that this was a business venture that she would like to tap into. She’d source and provide the best coffee beans to Botswana. So she put her heart and soul into founding Romatic Coffee.
I sat down for a Q&A with her, and this is what she had to say about her business.
When did you realise that this was something that you would like to venture into?
Neo: I’d say this all started in June 2018. It’s actually a progression because I’d been in the food and beverage industry as a chef. I’d been consulting and training in restaurants. My business partner is from Rwanda and he grew up in coffee farms. He was interested in this business but didn’t know how to go about it. So, he approached me and we spoke about it. I did research and developed the concept and studied it.
Have you always been a coffee lover?
Neo: I have always been a beverage lover. And so, I have always known that I would eventually venture into the beverage industry. I actually thought I would start with tea because I have always been a tea lover. But I guess things always have a way of working themselves out.
Do you have a specific way that you prefer your coffee?
Neo: If I’m drinking African coffees then I prefer filter coffee with no sugar. If I’m drinking south American coffee, then I like espresso-based coffees like cappuccinos or lattes.
Where do you source your coffee beans from? Tell me about the entire process.
Neo: From different farms. We have coffee from Africa: Tanzania, Burundi, Ethiopia and Kenya and also from South America: Honduras, Columbia, Brazil.
We have an African coffee range available at Square Mart. And our South American coffee beans are mostly available at hotels and restaurants because that is where there is a large demand for cappuccinos and lattes.
Have you attended any classes or found ways to grow your knowledge and skills in this field?
Neo: Yes. I had to take classes in the history and origins of coffee, coffee roasting, attend cupping sessions (where they teach the different tastes of coffee). I also went for barista training so I am actually a certified barista.
Does this business require you to travel a lot?
Neo: Not often. That’s because I can’t afford to travel much because I am a mother and I would be leaving my daughter behind. Business expos and workshops do require me to travel sometimes but it’s not very hectic.
How important is it to have a strong support system when you are a Mother who has decided to venture into entrepreneurship?
Neo: It’s extremely important. It is one of the things that you need to survive. If you don’t have support, you will fall apart.
Sometimes you feel like your whole existence is being supported by people. I have the support of my partner, my parents, my friends and family… You need a whole team.
Behind every successful person is a whole team. It’s emotional and financial. You need all of that to be a functional entrepreneur. And the challenge is that I like the idea of being very independent, but because I need so much support, it’s hard to accept that this is my reality sometimes. I have so many people that I need in order to sustain my entire existence as an entrepreneur.
What are some of the challenges you have faced?
Neo: Having to find where to train for these courses, finding information on how to do this here and funding. The business environment that we are operating in is not conducive for small businesses. It’s not easy to get a loan from the bank. It is also not easy to get support from local people because they want international brands.
I always have to prove myself and educate my clients because I’m selling to people that don’t have a lot of knowledge on what it means to sell coffee. All of this causes a lot of emotional problems for myself as well.
Where do you see your business in the next five years?
Neo: The vision is to export. Botswana is supposed to be the pilot project. Then we are planning to leverage all the contacts, experience, knowledge and build coffee shops and export to America, Asia and Europe.
How has the reception been from Batswana? How are sales?
Neo: In Gaborone, it has been great. We are already in 10 different establishments. In terms of retail space, we’re still having a bit of a problem. But the hospitality industry has really been good. And it’s because the product is great and it speaks for itself.
How important is it for you to instil entrepreneurship skills into your daughter?
Neo: I think she’s very creative and she is a problem solver, so I can already see it in her. But at the end of the day, it’s all up to her. I just want her to be happy and independent-minded.
What are some words of advice that you have for any young women and mothers, that would like to venture into entrepreneurship?
Neo: Whatever you’re doing, it’s very important to believe in yourself. Be patient, some things take time. Aim for growth, not necessarily money, even though it is very important to make money from it. However, make sure that whatever you’re doing you are constantly growing.
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