Mhlengi Ngcobo (26) is a true example of what can be achieved when you turn challenges into opportunities.
He is the founder and owner of a coffee roasting business called Coffee MM, which sells coffee online to individual and corporate clients and to the food and accommodation services sectors.
Ngcobo, who is from Johannesburg, was diagnosed with young-onset hypertension when he was just 13 years old. The disease is basically high blood pressure found in young people and young adults.
“After my diagnosis, doctors warned me to stay away from caffeinated drinks. I did not understand what that meant at the time, so I researched a lot about caffeinated beverages and their effects on my health,” he explains.
“Fast-forward to 2016, when I was at the University of Stellenbosch studying towards a degree in Civil Engineering. I had a project management assignment to come up with a business and I chose coffee roasting. The following year, I decided to turn the assignment into an actual business,” Ngcobo adds.
He started his business with his own capital, grinding coffee beans using a cheap grinder he found at a local store.
Since then, Coffee MM has brewed up a solid client base and was recently named the business with the most potential by Stellenbosch University’s Small Business Academy, after Ngcobo completed its development programme.
In 2018 and 2019, Coffee MM participated in the Decorex exhibition in Cape Town and was also nominated as a top six finalist in the Cape Town Global Student Entrepreneurship Awards.
Ngcobo says Coffee MM’s highlight was its nomination to the Top 20 – out of 850 applicants – of the 2020 Food Lover’s Market Seeds of Change Supplier Development Partnership. This gave the company an opportunity to supply coffee to the national franchise.
“Our business specialises in Arabica coffee and I source raw coffee beans from local farmers and various African countries, including Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia,” he adds.
Ngcobo says 2019 was a good year for Coffee MM. The business grew its client base and received funds from the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) to purchase a R19 000 coffee grinder.
Unfortunately, like many other small businesses, the Coronavirus pandemic dealt Coffee MM a blow, but Ngcobo refuses to give up and is currently on a journey to get back on his feet.
For more information on services offeredby the NYDA, call 0800 52 52 52 or go to www.nyda.gov.za