His small factory in Roma produces masimba (crackers) which have become the delight of the young and old. Plus, the Masimba are made from maize, the most abundant food Lesotho produces. “These crackers are so popular, we have since stopped doing anything else other than making them,” said the factory owner and the National University of Lesotho (NUL) student, Kamohelo Pakela.
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His Masimba, which he calls Boleng, comes in three tantalizing tastes: Cheese, Smoked BBQ and Sticky BBQ. “We are capable of making hard and brittle crackers or just soft crackers. However, we choose to be somewhere in between. That is because we realized the market doesn’t have anything in between.”
The story of Kamohelo starts while he was still in high school.
Entrepreneurship was already burning inside him. “At that time, I was already selling ice-cream in cooler bags.” However, something would happen that would set him on a windy route to where he is today. “After finishing my high school, I performed well so my former High School, Hope English Medium in Mafeteng, gave me a piece job.”
He was happy, not necessarily because he got a piece job but because of what that meant. He would use the proceeds to fund his business ventures.
At one time he was milling around Maseru when he spotted an ice-cream dispensing machine. Remember he previously relied on cooler bags. “Wow!” He thought. “I could use that to make a better product.”
With the money he got from his piece job and that which came from his mom, “I bought the ice-cream machine and pop corn machine and opened a spaza shop. The proceeds from this business would later make it easy for me to buy two more Ice-Cream machines.
He ended up with three of the machines.
Fate would put him at the NUL but that didn’t kill an entrepreneur in him.
At one point, “I was running three ice-cream businesses at the same time, one in Roma, one in Mafeteng and one in Mohale’s Hoek,” he said.
As if from nowhere, an idea that would put him where he is today dropped in his mind. He was eating maize-based crackers of the kind he is making and oops! “I was like, I have heard people saying these things are made from maize.”
So if they are made from maize and maize is so well produced in Lesotho as the staple food, “why the heck aren’t we making them?” he asked himself. Well, that would put his thinking abilities into an overdrive. “I become even more determined by the day to make these crackers.”
Having an idea is one thing. Pursuing that idea is quite another. In fact the so-called intellectuals will sit with an idea for years, analyzing its advantages and disadvantages. Innovators do it right away. They will learn about its shortcomings and address them along the way.
He, of course, is on the side of innovators.
So, he took some of the money he was making out of his spaza shops and bought the cracker making machine. Once the machine was there, she started hitting the wall as its “disadvantages” were laid bare before him. “I realized that the machine I had was not even enough. There was still more things to buy.” He didn’t expect he was going to have to learn so much about the process.
But learn he did.
An entrepreneur at heart, when he realized that his masimba business was not going to start anytime soon, he was already cooking up something. “I realized that no one was selling pizza in Roma.” It was a gap in the market he wouldn’t miss. Almost immediately, he started making and selling pizza.
When students vanished from Roma, and the ice-cream season came to an end, something occurred to him. He bought a machine which he had never used!
Armed with the proceeds from his selling of ice-cream and pizza, he could now find the missing links for the masimba production system and he started. He secured a mini-factory at Roma and started producing right away.
Needless to say, his business was an immediate success.
Of course he wasn’t introducing a different product. He was bringing a product that Basotho were already familiar with and loved, with the difference that it was now being made in Lesotho.
That was was a killer moment.