The Wild Coast is a trove of treasures. Lying on the outskirts of the town of Willowvale in the Eastern Cape is the remote village of Dwesa, where innovative business eMandulo was born and bred.
The brainchild of founder and former MasterChef South Africa contestant Onezwa Mbola, eMandulo is a company that produces seasonings and condiments from products that are grown and sourced from around the village.
GET TO KNOW US 🧵— eMandulo (@eMandulo_) June 16, 2022
Our hot sauces are made from homegrown chilli peppers which are naturally fermented for weeks to fully bring out their natural flavors pic.twitter.com/p8bJkTm7zo
“All our sauces are made from chilli peppers that I have personally grown,” says Mbola. “We make salt from the ocean in my backyard and flavour it with produce I grow.”
The exciting (and growing) product range includes tomato salt, pumpkin chutney, guava barbecue sauce and jalapeño and apple sauce, among others.
The company was inspired by a sense of community, especially the idea of sharing in on the different harvests that are grown on the land. “I want to share my harvest with the world. I want people to experience food as it was emandulo (in the beginning), where you knew exactly where your food came from, who made it and who grew it.”
As with most businesses, it started out as a dream for the 27-year-old who spent months planning and finding ways to make the products shelf stable without compromising on flavour. Her hard work and trepidation paid off as eMandulo now enjoys a loyal following.
“I went from thinking nobody would buy, to selling out. The reviews we’re getting are also really affirming,” says its founder. “Some of our products and methods may be considered unconventional in the South African market, so we didn’t think people would take to them so quickly.”
The self-confessed “dreamer” says despite some challenges – including the transportation of the products from their rural origins, and a lack of formal business support – resilience has helped the business grow.
“We’re constantly told to go into business to create jobs for ourselves, but nobody shows you how to do it. Everything I know, I’ve had to learn from the internet. I’ve made mistakes that could’ve been avoided had I had the assistance from empowerment and educational programmes aimed at supporting women.”
As the planet continues to face environmental crises, one of Mbola’s biggest values when it comes to not only how she lives her life, but also runs the business, is around sustainability. Little is wasted as scraps from the cooking process are used as compost or to feed livestock.
“Growing up, we didn’t have much, so coexisting with the earth was a way of survival,” she says. “We relied heavily on what the earth provided and in turn, we took care of the land so it could keep feeding us. I have applied the same values to my business because I believe in taking less than we give from the earth.”
This is further reflected in the products, with the offerings following the seasonal changes, using what is available, thus promoting sustainable farming. Packaging is also in recyclable containers.
While Mbola did not make it to the end of MasterChef, (where she gained a following as one of the most popular contestants), she says she gained some critical lessons. “My key takeaway was that just because I failed at one thing, it does not mean I shouldn’t ever try something new again. I was forced out of my comfort zone, and I decided to never go back into it. Starting eMandulo was the furthest I’ve moved from that zone, and I plan to move even further.”
- eMandulo is available to order on WhatsApp (0817126850)
As a young mom on the move, Mbola knows all about the need for a quick, easy meal, that still hits all the right spots. She shared one of her easy go-to meals.
250g cooked pasta + (1/2 cup pasta water)
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 chopped onion
1 jar of eMandulo’s saucy marinara
2 tbs of eMandulos’s chilli jam
Salt and pepper to season
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- In a pan, add in the oil and sauté the onions with a pinch of salt until soft and translucent.
- Stir in the marinara sauce and chilli jam.
- Add the pasta water and stir the pasta into the sauce until fully coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with grated Parmesan and enjoy.