Have you ever heard of traditional food that went to private school? If so, then you’re probably familiar with Mzito’s Kitchen. If not, join us as we have a chat with Ziyanda Sikiti, the founder and chef-in-charge of the popular food outlet that specializes in traditional food with a twist. She lets us into her business journey and the challenges faced along the way. Her business is based in Mbabane, at the inter-ministerial building.

Interview and Article by Phesheya Mkhonta

Q: How did the concept of Mzito’s Kitchen come about?

A: The concept was actually inspired by pregnancy cravings (lol). During my pregnancy, I’d crave traditional food and I couldn’t find it anywhere around Mbabane. And so it dawned on me that I could actually be the one to provide this product offering, as there was a huge gap for it. People are typically lazy to cook traditional food because it takes a bit of time to prepare, which is a luxury a lot of people don’t have.

Q: What is Mzito’s Kitchen’s business offering?

A: We are a food outlet and delivery service that offers traditional food with a modern twist, expertly prepared and presented. On our menu, you’ll find Trotters, Tripe (kwangekhatsi), Inhloko, Chicken insides, and feet, as well as hearty curries and stews. Currently, our biggest sellers are Inhloko and trotters. You’d swear I put korobela (muti) in them. (lol). We have a mobile outlet in Mbabane from which we deliver on-order. In addition, we offer catering services for corporate functions, private functions, and other events. 

Q: Tell us about your business journey, from inception, as well as how you obtained capital to start?

A: Initially, Mzito’s kitchen wasn’t externally or substantially funded in any way, I probably had E1, 000.00 with which I bought ingredients and started cooking from home. Then in 2020, a God-sent gentleman approached me with the intention to invest in the business and that’s how I opened up the physical shop in Matsapha. Fast forward, and we were unceremoniously forced to close shop in 2021 due to COVID19 restrictions and then there were the riots we witnessed, and of course the unstable economic climate. Then, this year (2022), we managed to source funding from Eswatini Bank through their revolving fund for MSMEs, which I honestly feel is one of the best mechanisms the country has for us in business.

Q: What have been your biggest challenges to date?

A: With prices of commodities rising together with the general cost of living increasing versus people not getting paid enough to meet these challenges, it creates a negative environment for us as SMEs as we depend on this very general public for patronage and survival. No money in people’s pockets means less money for us. It’s honestly been very hard trying to navigate through business due to the economic situation that the country is facing. That’s been our biggest challenge.

Q: You are one business owner that is very active on social media, how do you navigate this with running the daily operations of your business?

A: I think it helps that I’m generally a social media-active person and I love marketing. Luckily too, I have worked in different establishments within the marketing arena and so navigating it (social media) has been the easy part. A lot of research about trends and posting times only comes into fruition with practice and consistency where you then find out what works best for business. We have leveraged social media marketing to build brand visibility and a consistent clientele base.

Q: What do the next five years look like for the Mzito’s brand?

A: I honestly don’t know. In the current economic landscape, it’s tricky to try and project that far. Five years is a really long time. Look at how COVID-19 dramatically shifted so many things in under two years. So, I’m personally not projecting that far along at the moment. However, God willing and with everything running as hoped, I would love to have Mzito’s Kitchen as a franchise entity by then.

Q: In closing, tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know?

A: I’ll give you a few, I am a very approachable and nice person when you get the chance to know me. I’m such a hard teddy bear (lol). I don’t believe in gender equality, I believe men need to do their roles and the same applies to women. Lastly, I don’t like meat as much as people think I do, I honestly think it’s overrated.

Q: Your location and business trading hours?

A: You can find Mzito’s Kitchen at the Inter-ministerial building in Mbabane. First parking on your left after the hump. We are open from 10:00 to 14:30, Monday to Friday.

To Place, an Order, Contact 76404251/ 76428618 or order via the @eswa_hub App

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