If you want to accelerate your small food business to the next level, then the V&A Waterfront’s ground-breaking Food Lab Incubator Programme is for you. This immersive course allows businesses to focus on their direction and gives the tools, kitchen facility, and support to reach their goals while driving sales now.

Applications for the third intake of candidates are open between now and 30 November. Successful applicants will be enrolled in a four-month-long programme running from February to June 2022.

“Our accelerator programme offers opportunities to qualified start-ups and existing small food businesses that can show that they will benefit significantly from mentorship, training, and affordable access to a licensed commercial kitchen space. During the incubation period candidates will also be allowed to participate in Makers Landing programming, events, and market opportunities,” says Henri Mathys, V&A Waterfront Food Ecosystem Head.

Training will consist of two sessions a week, of two to three hours each. The program combines online learning and assignments developed by Stellenbosch University’s LaunchLab, and classroom sessions with industry experts. The focus is on laying solid business foundations, providing entrepreneurs with tools for success, and working purposefully towards their business goals.

The group in the second incubator programme are on track to graduate on 3 December. Meanwhile, All eight graduates from the first incubation programme are well on their way to putting their training into practice. Visitors to Makers Landing can now get an authentic taste of contemporary Durban Indian at Charmaine Govender-Koen’s Charm’s Kitchen pod, and they can eat their way through a range of Halaal certified chocolate-based fudge at Zulfa Cassiem’s Ooh Fudge Dessert Bar.

Another success story is Faieez “Fuzzy” Alexander. Fuzzy’s Cape Malay koesisters have made their way onto selected Vida-E Western Cape menus, and he is still working to achieve his goal of creating frozen koesisters which can be supplied to supermarkets.

Speaking about the programme, Makers Landing Incubator and Markets Manager Angelique Smith said, “One of the important lessons each new group of entrepreneurs to the incubator programme learns is to reassess direction, costing, and viability. This has been an especially important lesson during the past year. We’ve reviewed their business models with them, and have helped them to refine these to be as efficient and successful as possible. For example, they arrived with long menus which were simply not practical, so we teach them is to focus on simplifying their offering to stay focused and true to their brand. This is the first step to surviving – and even thriving – during survive difficult times.”

Jane Tshuti from Tamu by Jane, who graduated in May 2021, reflected on her time in the Food Incubator Lab, “Food is a communal experience, it cannot be done in isolation. I had no idea how much I possessed within when it came to pushing my agenda of taking African food to the world until I joined the Makers Landing community. This place will expose all the strength you didn’t even know you had.”

Lester Adams and Connor Wolstencroft from Slow & Low, who also graduated from the first programme, said, “The Incubator programme at Makers Landing at the V&A Waterfront has been instrumental in developing my business years ahead of what the trial and error of real-world learning accomplishes. The resources and wealth of professional experience at hand is one of the biggest food and business think-tanks that exists in South Africa. An invaluable experience and a wonderful community to be part of.

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