Me & my business
Despite holding a Bachelors Degree in Humanities (English & French), Neo Mutloane-Rampha has put her university qualifications on hold and turned her childhood passion for food into a business venture.
At the age of 35, Mutloane-Rampha runs a food business called N.A.J Group Catering, a meal subscription service which also provides corporate and private catering services on request.
Based in Block 7, Gaborone, N.A.J Group Catering allows its clientele to pay a monthly subscription to have either breakfast, lunch or dinner prepared for them. Further, clients have the option to collect food from place of operation themselves or have it delivered to them at an extra cost.
N.A.J Group Catering further takes into account every client’s specific needs therefore being able to assist those customers who come with meal plans from dieticians, clients that are vegetarian or vegan and prepare appetizing meals specific to their needs which is another way to improve the business model.
“When I left university, I jumped straight into business. I used to do hair at some point. I have sold clothes too and still do. I was raised to be entrepreneurial, It’s all I know. I come from a family of great cooks and business minded people. My eldest sister cooks for a living and my late mother did the same after retiring from social work. Cooking is something I love doing, might as well be paid for doing something I enjoy,” said the 35 year old Lobatse born.
Having started in 2019, N.A.J Group Catering started as an ordinary catering business in the streets of Gaborone but only changed business model to a subscription based service post the Covid-19 lockdown.
“My target market is corporates or anyone who really that doesn’t want the hassle of having to go out during their lunch break to look for food. I also help clients that have weight loss/gain goals and clients with specific dietary needs with meal preparations,” Mutloane-Rampha told Voice Money.
Quizzed on why she had to change the business model and ditch the ever busy Gaborone streets, Mutloane-Rampha said profits were not forthcoming therefore there was a need to change strategy for profitability.
“I changed from selling on the streets to having it subscription based because I felt I was making a loss. With subscriptions I know how many people I’m cooking for and how much I need to use, I don’t have to estimate. Therefore cutting down on costs to maximize profits,” she said.
However, since the restriction on importation of some vegetables, the business has been slightly affected since most of her dishes require the use of vegetables.
“There are weeks where we can go without onions, tomatoes and other fresh produce. We have been forced to adapt and find other alternatives e.g. Instead of using fresh tomatoes, you end up using canned tomatoes,” lamented Mutloane-Rampha.
Nonetheless, that is not the only challenge as the current high inflation has some impact on the business. “With the current inflation, everything is expensive. When you try to adjust prices to accommodate the production cost hike, customers complain or leave to find “cheaper” alternatives. You end up either making barely enough or with fewer clientele,” said the University of Botswana alumni.
Despite a whole lot of catering business in Gaborone, Mutloane-Rampha believes there is a lot that she can offer in the market with many opportunities lying out there in the food industry .
“We will like to do more than just providing catering services in future. We are looking into going in to food production, processing and packaging. There is clearly still a huge gap in that market that needs to be filled,” she said.