Tolokazi Beer founder has big plans after surviving lockdown booze ban ordeal
Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela's startup brewing company was almost crushed by COVID when the government imposed its lockdown alcohol sale bans.
The tenacious young brewmaster pulled through however with a bit of help and a lot of perseverance to unlock new possibilities.
Equipped with a BSC and an Honours degree in Microbiology, Nxusani-Mawela joined South African Breweries (SAB) in 2007 through its graduate recruitment programme.
When I was the craft brewer specialist in the company I was allowed to create my own recipes... I used to brew for festivals... I was quite fortunate to be given the freedom to create, but in terms of the main brands, I was given access to the recipes... That doesn't mean my beer is the same!Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela, Founder - Tolokazi Craft Beer
After leaving the company in 2015, she partnered with Brewhogs Microbrewery in Kyalami. She also started a company called Brewsters Craft, which initially focused on consulting and training.
In 2019 the entrepreneur launched her own beer and cider brand, Tolokazi Craft Beer.
Then COVID hit, then the lockdown, and then the ban on alcohol sales.
It was the worst time... When the lockdown happened in March 2020 the brewery was about seven months in operation... I'd started employing more people... getting ready to really push the brand...Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela, Founder - Tolokazi Craft Beer
Sadly, Nxusani-Mawela's funders weren't open to the options of loan restructuring or payment breaks she says.
"It was a very stressful time... I still ask myself how I survived!"
In a nutshell, a connection with a beer subscription service led to distribution of some of her product in the UK.
They helped me find a brewery in Croatia willing to help brew the beer... The beer was sold out [in the UK]... People loved the brand story, they loved the taste...Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela, Founder - Tolokazi Craft Beer
From there it opened up all these great opportunities, from the Beer52 conversations I've had other people who are distributors in Europe who reached out... and from the US... It opened me up to the potential Tolokazi has not only in South Africa, but globally.Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela, Founder - Tolokazi Craft Beer
Back home, Nxusani-Mawela has also had discussions with some big retailers who are interested in stocking her product.
She is passionate about the African tradition of sorghum brewing, and not simply because some countries grant a tax rebate if you use local ingredients.
For me it was more about not losing our African brewing culture, and looking at how do I combine the clear or Western beer-making with the traditional African beer-making.Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela, Founder - Tolokazi Craft Beer
My range is very much African-inspired and telling our story as African brewers... and our available ingredients on the continent.Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela, Founder - Tolokazi Craft Beer
Listen to the uplifting interview with the young brewmaster in the audio clip below:
This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Tolokazi Beer founder has big plans after surviving lockdown booze ban ordeal
Source : https://www.facebook.com/Tolokazibeer/photos/531702041907854