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CoffeeMM: Empowering Africa, one cup at a time

Meet the Absa Small Business Friday featured Small Business of the week – CoffeeMM.

CoffeeMM is dedicated to sourcing and roasting the finest coffee beans from across Africa. The company not only supplies exquisite coffee to establishments but also provides a sophisticated ambiance for leisure and work in its coffee shops. Additionally, through CoffeeMM Academy, it instills entrepreneurship skills and values in young learners, aiming to make a lasting impact on the education landscape.

CoffeeMM emerged in March 2017 with a modest startup capital of R150 and a bicycle. The driving force behind its inception was a desire to elevate the quality of coffee, challenge negative perceptions, and uplift small-scale coffee farmers. Initially, the focus was on establishing an efficient online platform, offering customers the convenience of ordering from home. Despite humble beginnings, with only 1kg of coffee sold in the first year, founder Mhlengi Ngcobo persisted. While balancing full-time studies in Civil Engineering at Stellenbosch University, Mhlengi cycled hundreds of kilometers weekly to deliver coffee to customers across various regions.

In 2018, CoffeeMM was officially registered, albeit lacking equipment for deliveries beyond Mhlengi’s bicycle. However, October of the same year marked a significant milestone when Mhlengi secured a vehicle for deliveries. Despite facing challenges, including the closure of a second coffee shop due to economic impacts of Covid-19, CoffeeMM continued to expand. Today, it boasts a coffee roastery in Stellenbosch, supplying beans to local establishments, along with two thriving coffee shops in the Stellenbosch CBD. Additionally, CoffeeMM’s reach extends nationwide through its online store, www.coffeemm.co.za.

CoffeeMM has been committed to empowering youth, having employed and trained 11 young individuals in various skills such as selling, coffee roasting, and barista training. With a focus on nurturing young talent, CoffeeMM has paved the way for opportunities in the coffee industry.

In a groundbreaking move in 2023, CoffeeMM established a pioneering coffee academy. This innovative initiative aims to equip young people with essential skills in coffee processing, barista techniques, agronomy, and basic business skills. The academy serves as a beacon of hope for aspiring entrepreneurs and coffee enthusiasts alike.

At CoffeeMM Academy, since its inception on June 16, 2023, over 300 students from nine high schools have undergone rigorous training. The curriculum encompasses entrepreneurship development, marketing strategies, barista skills, and sales techniques. Through these comprehensive courses, CoffeeMM Academy is shaping the next generation of coffee industry leaders, empowering them to succeed in a competitive market landscape.

Mhengi has achieved a great deal in a short time, including (to name a few):

Looking ahead, CoffeeMM envisions a future where African coffee farmers receive fair compensation for their labour, entrepreneurship thrives, and communities are uplifted. With plans to establish roasteries across African nations and expand its presence in the SADC region, CoffeeMM aims to leave a lasting legacy of empowerment and change.

As CoffeeMM charts its course for the future, Mhlengi’s vision remains crystal clear. In the next decade, he envisions roasteries spanning across African nations, coffee shops dotting the landscape, and a significant market share in the SADC region. But beyond numbers, his ultimate goal is to leave a lasting legacy of empowerment and change.

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