Understanding the manufacturing environment and knowing how to skilfully raise capital has been a crucial process to the success of Qasa-Mia, a food-processing company founded by Wendell Peters. Qasa-Mia manufactures Ezee Pap Products, a staple food variation that aims to produce quality, nutritional and ready cooked maize meal products at cost effective prices. The product range includes Ezee Pap, Braai Pap and Polenta.
Born and raised in Klipspruit-Soweto, Wendell has transitioned between many job roles with a primary background in international aviation and social entrepreneurship. In the four years that he spent as director of Thusanang Adventures (A Social Development Initiative for Youth), he managed to generate over 300 jobs for young people. Striking out on his own in business has always been part of the plan. One of the most important and potentially rewarding decisions he has had to make. Peters reflects on how intellectually and emotionally challenging it has been getting his business off the ground. “When I started the concept of Ezee Pap, there was no organisation willing to support the idea simply because I had no offtake agreement,” says Peters. A common challenge that faces many entrepreneurs is how to extend from finance to products, distribution to infrastructure.
In 2014, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) offered to assist Peters with the setting up of a test factory to produce initial samples of Ezee Pap. This allowed Peters the opportunity to rent out the unique machinery he had spotted from a retired Italian businessman. This machinery is one of a kind with intellectual properties held by a certain Italian company. It meant that Peters would be the only manufacturer in Africa to hold rights to produce such pap.
Ezee Pap ready cooked maize meal products enjoy a shelf life of up-to nine months, with no refrigeration required. Following his field-tested wisdom, Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) provided Peters with a R3 million grant to purchase the full machinery for his factory plant. The grant afforded Ezee Pap a permanent factory facility with all the nuts and bolts.
KASIBIZ MAHALA STAFF WRITER