Thabisile Danisa of KwaNdengezi, near Pinetown, in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) is the owner of Incasa Foods, which she started in 2015.
The business manufactures and distributes halaal-certified sauces, pastes and spices.
“Growing up, I always found a way to preserve surplus food from my parents’ garden and came up with homemade food products. I started this business after completing a Diploma in Hospitality Management from the Durban University of Technology,” she says.
At first, she used social media to sell her products to local customers, but dreamed of also selling to retail stores, compelling her to obtain a Halaal certification for her products.
“I approached the South African National Halaal Authority to obtain the certificate,” she says.
According to the South African National Halaal Authority, Halaal is an Arabic word which means lawful or permissible.
Muslims are permitted to eat the flesh of certain animals, which are required to be slaughtered according to specific rituals. Halaal includes all aspects of food hygiene and quality.
After receiving the certification, Danisa's products eventually made it to Spar and Oxford stores in KZN.
In 2018, she started approaching government departments for funding and discovered Agribusiness Development Agency (ADA) in KZN.
“Before ADA could fund my business, it took my products for testing to its lab to ensure they were safe for consumption,” she says.
ADA tests its beneficiaries' products for free. After passing the test, Danisa was exposed to free training opportunities, exhibitions and was assisted with the drafting of a business plan, which is needed in the application for funding.
Towards the end of 2019, ADA placed an advert in local newspapers, inviting women-owned businesses to apply for funding.
“I successfully submitted my application form and I was invited for an interview as part of ADA’s evaluation process,” says Danisa.
Incasa Food was selected, together with four other local agribusinesses owned by women, to become part of the KZN Women in Agriculture for Export Programme. The five businesses received R770 662.95 to procure processing equipment.
Danisa says this has helped her business grow. So far, Incasa Foods has created two permanent jobs, 10 internships and three temporary jobs.