He grew up in Hospital View, Tembisa and played soccer like many young black people in South Africa. He loved it but there was clearly a difference with him. He played for so many teams like Supersport Youth Academy, Tembisa Classic and Tembisa Young Movers that he ended up with the nickname “Shoes”. You have to be special to have such a nickname and he certainly is in the field of business. We caught up with Thabiso Molekwa at Brown Sense market day in Midrand where he was showcasing his craft beer.
BD: You could have thousands of fans singing your name in a stadium. Why did you not play soccer professionally?
TM: I had to choose between survival and passion. South Africa is still a developing country and at times its hard to live or to rely only on passion, so I had to find a way to survive.
BD: You have chosen an interesting avenue to launch yourself, how did this passion start?
TM: It started when I was 23 years; I used to own a pub in Tembisa, Hospital View called Ditox Khona. That’s where I have learned a lot about beer industry. At the age of 26, I then bought a food franchise “Kings Shisanyama”. It was a restaurant and it was based in Pta central. I then saw the opportunity of having an in-house beer. I used to serve a meal with an in-house beer as combo. That’s when I saw a great potential of Embombi Premium Lager.
BD: Have you had any training in the craft of making beer?
TM: Yes. I underwent training with Brewster Craft, and I also read lot of books like “How to brew” by John Palmer.
BD: Where are you based?
TM: I’m brewing at Brewhogs, 50 Barbeque Corner, Daytchley road Kyalami 1684
Our offices are at B10-01 Emerald Gardens, Invicta Road, Midrand 1684
BD: We can imagine, this requires a lot of capital investment?
TM: Yes indeed. It is one of the current challenges that I am facing, looking at the fact that the demand is increasing drastically and it requires me to increase my capacity and I am also looking to launch other products like range of ciders and other types of beer that also require huge amount of investment. Current running cost of the company like marketing and sales department, distribution of product, cold storage, production cost, marketing materials and salaries. All those above mentioned they require capital investment.
BD: Where is your product available at retail level?
TM: We currently at the following retail outlets across Gauteng Provence.
Beer House Fourways
The Great Burger Company Illovo
Blue Bottle Store Kyalami
Dros Sandridge Midrand
Liquor City Gronkloof Pretoria
Capital Craft Brooklyn Pretoria
Capital Craft Centurion
Sakhumzi in Vilakazi street Soweto
Vuyo’s in Vilakazi street Soweto
Next Door in Vilakazi street Soweto
White House Tembisa
Wines and Liquor @ Melrose
Patapata Maboneng Joburg
Chokbot Maboneng Joburg
CHI restaurant Maboneng Joburg
Joziburglane at no1 Eloff Street Joburg
Stanley Beer yard Joburg
Pimvile Bottle Store at Pimvile center Soweto
Wines and Menus Mameladi.
10 more outlets will be added on from Gauteng starting from the 1st of October 2016 and we also looking to supply to the following provinces Western Cape “ Cape Town”, Eastern Cape “ Port Elizabeth , KwaZulu-Natal “ Durban” ,Mpumalanga “ Witbank and Nelspruit” and Northern Cape “ Kimberley”.
BD: That is quite impressive! How long has it taken you to get listed as a supplier and was it easy? What did it take?
TM: it took me 6 months and it wasn’t easy, I had to be patient and persistent.
BD: The Scottish whisky industry is global, what is the height of your ambition?
TM: Firstly, I would like to own a value chain of the beer industry, then I would like to trade globally and finally I would like my company to be listed on 3 major stock exchanges around the world.
BD: Our people have traditionally made beer, how can we upscale this industry to enter the formal market?
TM: We can upscale ourselves by leaning more about local craft beers and also by giving them enough chance and opportunity to penetrate the market.
BD: Any role models?
TM: Mr Patrice Motsepe and Mr Floyd Chubane
BD: Why these two in particular?
TM: Mr Motsepe because of his humanity, he is very successful and yet still humble. Mr Chubane taught me lot of things in life, I can mention a few, how to be a position myself in a business environment, how to chase my goals, how to treat others e.g. I shouldn’t treat people according to their financial status. How to be humble, how to add value into money and lastly how to be a man.
BD: Where did you go to school?
TM: I went to Kgatlamping primary school, Tembisa High School, UNISA and North-West University.
BD: What did you study at both universities?
TM: BCom Economics at UNISA and Hdip In Tax with North-West University
BD: What does the future hold?
TM: Great opportunities, lots of love, growth and success.
BD: You have taken on an industry where giants already exist. Congratulations. What advice would you give to young black people who want to enter highly competitive industries?
TM: Think big, Start small and scale fast. Challenges in life are there to mould you and lastly, where there is no cost, there is no value.
The next time you go to a place where craft beer is sold, ask for Embombi Premium Lager. We have tried it and we endorse it!