Mamello Molakeng Pre-Cut Greens

Favorite quote: “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone” Pablo Picasso

What is your story (tell us about yourself)?
I am a qualified Logistician, that’s extremely passionate about business, arts, as well as philanthropy.

I’ve always known that I wanted to do business. It was never really a struggle figuring that out. In high school, my passion for the arts heightened and I intended on studying Media post matric. However, on the contrary, I believed the media industry was over-saturated and a part of me & what most parents feared was that it wouldn’t be a sustainable career (which is not entirely true). So I was forced to go back to the drawing board and dig deep. And there it came about, my love for Logistics. It isn’t the commercial activity of transporting the goods to the customers that sort of sets my heart on fire, but rather the overall supply chain. The core activities involved in converting the raw materials, right through to when the final product reaches its customers. ‘The in-between’. That’s where the beauty lies for me. And I get to fully experience that first-hand through this business every single day, while it also allows me to further explore my other interests.

When did you start your first business and what inspired you to start?
Pre-Cut Greens started in 2021- midst COVID-19. Essentially I wanted to venture into something that did not require a lot of start-up capital. I generally wasn’t specific in terms of the industry so I did my research, landed on an idea, saw a gap & was inspired to capitalise on it- backed by a lot of burning passion for business of course. Eventually Pre-Cut Greens grew into what it is today- a company that understands that saving time is a BIG DEAL, hence we offer pre-cut fresh produce that save time & labor, with a variety of service options available at unparalleled quality & customer service.

What is the Key Objective(s) and Vision of your business? (Has it changed overtime or is has it always been this?)
Key Objectives:
– To offer high-quality products to our clients.
– Sell convenience.
– Create sustainable jobs and ensure food security.
– But most importantly, maintain a healthy cash flow.

To open up walk-in stores that solely focus on offering fresh pre-cut vegetables & smoothy packs, on the go. And to establish a fresh produce market that can potentially supply both individuals and corporate clients.

These have both remained as is.

What challenges did you face in your journey? What’s the biggest obstacle you had to overcome (are still overcoming)?
When I first started out, my biggest challenge was pricing. Wanting to be as inexpensive as possible to obviously be able to attract as many clients. But the truth is, an underpriced product is either an expense to the pocket or a complete waste of time. A business cannot and will not survive on just passion alone- you will burnout. You need to make profit, which is ultimately the point of running a business. I essentially used a lot of existing retailer’s pricing as a benchmark, not as a standard- which then gives you an idea of more or less how much that specific product costs in the market. However, your overall price is obviously determined by your real costs. Many times you’d find clients that consider you ‘too expensive’ or others comparing you to other brands. However, Pre-Cut sells Quality and Convenience- two major factors that come at a price.

Someone on social media put it nicely and said, “Rich Mnisi did exactly what the people asked for. He created a Black Luxury brand and priced it accordingly. His market will buy it”. I wish a lot of entrepreneurs would have this confidence- within reason of course. And I say this because, a lot of small black-owned businesses are looked down upon. Someone has an interest in what you’re selling yet they want to negotiate (a lot of us were guilty of this at some point). But let’s be honest, do you ever walk into ‘Checkers’ and ask for better pricing? If they say closing hours are 17:00 and you urgently need a product, do you still expect to be assisted or threaten to take your business elsewhere? I do not vouch for over-pricing. I just wish 2 things; for clients to know & understand what goes into producing what they ultimately wish to buy from entrepreneurs, and for entrepreneurs to know that there’ll always be a market for them.

How did you manage to navigate your company through this period of the Covid-19 pandemic? (What business strategies/operational adjustments have you made over this period and how has it impacted your business model?)
For a company that was established mid COVID, we haven’t really been affected much. Fortunately enough, we didn’t get the chance to operate while the hard lockdown was imposed. That certainly would’ve affected us.

How do you approach networking and building partnerships in your industry?
I formed a relationship with local farmers, which has had a great impact on the business as far as cost and quality is concerned. And as a result, our customers truly get value for their money. Find and associate yourself with people in your line of business. In my case that consists of farmers, catering company founders, and restaurant owners. Research goes a long way. In fact, these days we have it easier. We all know of ‘someone’ who potentially knows of ‘someone’. If you’re an entrepreneur, surround yourself with other entrepreneurs. Attend business events & read up a lot. You can never know too much.

Do you have (or ever had) a mentor in your journey, and do you believe it helped (if yes, in what way)?
Yes, my dad. With about 25 years of combined experience in construction, automotive industry, manufacturing, real estate, motor retail and fleet. 20 years of that which was in Top Management. There is absolutely no way you can be surrounded by all of that and not be inspired, let alone fail. I have avoided (and still do) a lot of pitfalls & mistakes in both life and business because of the wisdom and knowledge he has acquired through his level of experience. His always challenged me in many more ways than one; “refuse to settle for average and constantly expand your knowledge & involvement in various things”.

What is your perspective on the South African entrepreneurial landscape before and after Covid-19 pandemic? (Would you say the “new normal” context drives more or less opportunities for entrepreneurs?) How can entrepreneurial policy development aid in expanding opportunities in this new context?
I think COVID certainly drove more opportunities for many entrepreneurs to capitalise on. It was something we’ve never seen before and things had to be done differently in our day-to-day lives, and in the business world. So there definitely was a gap that initially wasn’t there prior COVID. A lot of entrepreneurs within my industry had the platform to be innovative and more creative in their approach, while putting up crisis management mechanisms in place in order to overcome these times of uncertainty, being COVID. However, we can all agree that COVID-19 has driven less opportunities than it has created. Entrepreneurship is hard on its own, and yet a  lot of businesses were faced with substantial business and major disruptions, others were forced to closed down, while the unemployment rate shot through the roof. It’s terrible.

In your opinion, what are the secrets to being a successful entrepreneur?
Financial literacy: A lot of entrepreneurs go into business with the goal of making money without being educated on how to actually manage money, money that essentially belongs to the business. If you can’t manage R1000, you cannot manage R100 000. You don’t suddenly learn how to handle money by simply acquiring more of it. A business should ultimately be able to sustain & maintain itself…over a period of time.
1. Consistency: “Small daily improvements, when done consistently over time, lead to stunning results”~ Robin Sharma. Consistent momentum ultimately breaks through walls, there’s no doubt about that.
2. Quality: People eat with their eyes first. Invest in your branding, packaging, the quality of your product, and your customer service. All these things ultimately impact whether or not a client will consider purchasing your product & in turn come back for more of your services.
3. Passion: I believe that if there’s something you’re truly passionate about, something that means something to you, do it. You can only do your best work if you’re doing what you want to do & if you’re doing it the way you think it should be done.
4. Hard-work: Anyone in business will tell you that it is not easy, especially when you first start out. You will have to unlock unfathomable levels of hard work & put in the hours. A lot of the money we are looking for is in the business we are avoiding, but ultimately the results & life we want is found on the other side of self-discipline. Doing the work even when you don’t feel like it or when you have every reason to give up.
5. Creativity & Flexibility: The pandemic has changed the way that we live and do business. For instance, many companies were forced to move from bricks-and-mortal to e-commerce because clients would rather conveniently order products online then to physically go into stores, to avoid getting infected. A lot of companies also had to develop a way to start selling online and introduce the use of cashless payments to control the spread of the virus. So entrepreneurs should constantly be looking for ways to remain competitive, be innovative & evolve with the times.

What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
When you feel like surrendering, continue! The world is yours for the taking.