“Growing up I noticed how my mother struggled at times, however in the midst of her struggles she still managed to lend a helping hand to those around her and that is what inspired me to want to do the same”. This is how 29 year old Ester Mauta kicks off our interview.
It was during her teen years that Mauta realised that she had a passion for cooking traditional food which later led to the opening up of African Chakula.
“African Chakula is a business that promotes, educates and empowers women from remote areas who are not able to venture into businesses by their own means”. The business which is also a form of social entrepreneurship, implements solutions for social, cultural and environmental issues in order to better communities in Namibia.
Concerned with the unproductivity which runs rampant in northern Namibia with women sitting at home, Mauta launched African Chakula in November last year. She did so to understand the collective and individual struggles of other women and to assist them in this regard.
A significant number of women face real challenges with having to earn a living for the family as the days of waiting for husbands to bring home some sort of income are gone.
“It’s evident that women have the ability to cook and sell food items. Through African Chakula they are now able to find a good form of generating income from their home grown skills to fend for their families said Mauta.”
Mauta has thus far helped more than ten women from Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Kavango East and even neighbouring Angola to start up vending businesses in these areas. These ladies are now able to make and sell traditional kitchen utensils as well as traditional food.
To proof their productive abilities, they produce wooden traditional spoons (Oluko), traditional maize meal pounding pot (Oshini) and serve delicacies such as kapenta fish, eembe, mopane worms, mutete, kasava, traditional dried spinach and maize meal.
She explained that in some instances there have been women who have not been able to leave their homes because of reasons such as having to look after their younger children. Mauta however noted that making a salary for them was and is still possible.
“For those who have no other alternatives but to stay at home, I normally encourage them to sell the food they make to me and I resell them to customers. This way they still make money to feed of from”.
Mauta further explained that she aims to reduce the unemployment rate in Namibia by using her business as a means to boost economic activities in order to bring change to the country.
“I plan on helping more women, because some women never had the opportunity to go to school but still have skills that can get them somewhere. I try and encourage them to cook really good food by training them”.
She also wants to further expand the business to other regions as the country is filled with women from all corners who want to venture into businesses but do not know where to start.
Plans to promote traditional food delicacies and other culinary items outside the borders of Namibia are also in the pipe line as she wants women street vendors to gain the exposure they need in order to grow and assist other women as well.
African Chakula is also very active on social media as social entrepreneurship is simplified by the use of the internet. By the use of social media, African Chakula is able to help women in remote areas reach a larger geographical audience in order to support their small businesses and help them grow.
Mauta encourages the public to support street vendors as the struggles they go through on daily basis are not easy. She also urged Namibians to participate in social entrepreneurship activities as the future belongs to the future generation as well.
Knowing that she is able to help those in need drives and pushes her to keep on growing the business as someday even children who live in destitute communities can look at this as an alternative for survival. This is also a form of skill training.
African Chakula is located in Soweto, Mamre Street Windhoek between a doctor consulting rooms and the gym. Women who are need of business assistance can visit Mauta or contact Ester on 0812112286.