The Nedbank Kapana Cook-Off - A stepping stone to launching a business

01 October 2021 | Bankwese
The overall winner receives prizes that amount to N$100 000 and include a fully furnished mobile food trailer.

To date, Nedbank Namibia has invested over N$3 million in hosting this flagship national competition in support of small businesses and in celebration of true Namibian cuisine.

Exposure for the winners is massive, but are strips of meat on hot coals, with salsa, tomatoes, onions and chilli the winning formula, or do they find a long-term benefit out of the competition”?

We spoke to previous winners from the north of the country to find out how the competition has changed their lives.

Last year, Brumilda Hikumwa became the sixth cook to win the competition, taking home a mobile food kitchen equipped with built-in quality appliances, which she described at the time “as fancy stuff”, as well as N$15 000 in cash.

“Winning the competition did me good because I always wanted my own restaurant, and the food trailer made everything possible. Now I can have my restaurant anywhere!” the proud mother from Ondangwa says.

Passion for food and determination have helped her to overcome all odds despite the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. The curfew brought many challenges to small businesses country-wide, due to shorter operating hours and fewer customers. Despite that chaos and uncertainty, Brumhilda has risen to meet the challenges, boldly going where others fear to tread: to continue doing what she loves—selling Kapana and expanding her business with the mobile fully-fledged kitchen that she dreamt of.

Her message to others who want to enter the competition: “If you want to enter, go for it. Just be confident. The sky is the limit.”

Eli Abel, who was the winner in 2017, was born and raised in Windhoek. At the time, he did not have a job and a friend who was aware of his talent as a chef encouraged him to enter.

Today, he owns the Mad Chef and Chillar coffee shop in Ongwediva.

“We hardly use menus, but we do face-to-face orders to give our customers what they really want. And Kapana is always tops!”

What sets his business apart from those in the same industry is “honest food and service, as well as hard work.”

Additionally, Nedbank provides access to skill building through an SME mentorship programme. SMEs are an important driving force of economic growth and an engine for job creation. The Kapana Cook-Off competition is one of the vehicles Nedbank Namibia utilises to reach out to small players in the market, who are already running a small business and who aspire to expand and formalise their operations.

Eli loves being his own boss, and he says the mentorship programme gave him all the insights and know-how for running the shop successfully. He feels that, with the knowledge he acquired over the past four years, he needs to pass it on to others.

But with successes also come challenges. It is difficult to find the right investors and funds are hard to get, but hard work and determination are key for the young entrepreneur.

His advice to those who want to enter the competition. “You have nothing to lose. Just try.”

All of the previous winners speak of a humble attitude, a desire to learn, combined with a certain amount of talent; these are the best ingredients for winning the competition. Other than that, it is all in the hands of the judges who decide whether the Kapana is juicy, spicy and tasty, to crown the best in Namibia.

The 2021 Nedbank Kapana Cook-Off is currently under way, with the preliminary having taken place in Swakopmund and Windhoek already. The Northern preliminary and final round is set to take place on 2 October 2021.

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