Rumbidzai Natasha Kuipa who is popularly known by the moniker Nana is a 23-year-old girl based in Harare, Zimbabwe. She started the journey of Nana’s Gourmet Kitchen (NGK) in 2013 by hosting small dinner parties and lunch dates for her family and friends. During that period, that’s when she realised she was passionate about being in the hospitality industry and decided to make it a profession. Lucky for her, she had friends that encouraged her to take on the journey and from there she has never looked back.
I recently had a chat with her about NGK and where they are at now. Check out what she had to say below!
Tell us in your words who Nana is?
Well, I aspire to be many things but being happy is the most important and having peace of mind in anything I do. I must say that I am a social butterfly, but I still do crave time alone, so that I can be in touch with my thoughts and feelings. I am hardworking and I never take no for an answer as I’m trying to stay ahead and on top of my game. I have an inborn fighting spirit and a never-ending love affair with food.
When did you decide to form NGK?
I decided to start NGK in 2014. This was after trying everything; and when I say everything I mean everything! I tapped into so many industries just trying to find myself and that didn’t quite work out. I was tired of my 8-5 job then, and I kept asking myself questions like why am I here? How long will I be doing this for? Until I asked myself the question that became my lightbulb, and that was; what was I passionate about? And it was food! From there I left my job and started doing voluntary work for a food magazine, where I would go out to restaurants doing food tastings and writing articles about the food. That’s when I knew this was me and decided to start something of my own. It started off with a friend telling me to start a Facebook page where I would host dinner parties and take pictures of the food and then post online just to show my work in hopes that people would appreciate it, and before I knew it people started ordering from me; that’s when I decided to take it to the next level and that’s what I am doing right now.
Describe in your words what best represents NGK?
It was established with the intention of being a leader in the food industry (catering). Our products and services are provided to a diversified wide range of public and private customers. We have been able to demonstrate outstanding superior capabilities, through constantly meeting deadlines that customers would have given us. Our top priority is to exceed expectations in every way possible, by providing professional expertise coupled with unrivalled customer service, which makes us an industry forerunner for catering and cakes.
Share some tips or pointers that have helped you overcome any obstacles along the way of your life journey.
One thing I have learnt is to always be patient, and that things happen in Gods time. However, while you wait, you have to keep pushing yourself to reach your goals. If you are unsure about something ask God he will show you the way. I have also learnt that we are human and mistakes are bound to happen, so, when I make a mistake I take note of it and jot it down and I ask myself questions on how can I better myself or how can I improve this situation and I come up with ways so that next time I will not make the same mistake. Lastly, I have learnt to follow my dreams and I encourage the person who is reading this to do the same. No matter how small or how big never stop dreaming and making steps to fulfil that dream, even if people do not understand your vision, because it’s not theirs to understand the vision was meant for you so I say go for it, always do what makes you happy as long as it doesn’t cause others pain.
Why did you feel it was something necessary in Zimbabwe to have such a company?
Well to be honest, being in Switzerland for 3 years showed me a lot and that my country was limited, I saw so many opportunities through the events held at the school I attended and I was really impressed by the presentation of the food and the amazing art that people would do especially with the fruits display, which intrigued me as I hadn’t seen that in Zimbabwe yet. So I thought why not bring the ideas back home and show people that food doesn’t need to be boring or presented poorly there are always ways of satisfying the palate in front of you, so basically I got the inspiration from the Swiss.
Have you made a footprint in other African countries or internationally?
Well, not yet, but I have had so much support from Zimbabweans in the diaspora who order online and the support from there is more than I could have imagined. With time I do intend on travelling and learning from other countries and hopefully, God willing, NGK will expand across the African continent and internationally.
What are your plans in general for the future for NGK?
I plan on hopefully owning an establishment (shop) in the CBD of Harare, where I can supply pastries, cakes and much more. A space where people can purchase their lunch or breakfast and also packed lunches that people can order and collect from the shop; this plan is in the pipeline and when its out you will be the first to know.
What advice do you have for other young aspiring women who want to become entrepreneurs?
It would be to do something YOU are PASSIONATE about, do not do something because it has worked for your friend or the next person, because it may not also work out for you. Run your own race and stay in your lane. I would also say get extraordinarily good at what you do, so good that other people come to you for your expertise. Here is the story I tell people who ask me how I started; well I had nothing to begin with, not even $50. Therefore, money should never be the factor; start where you are with what you have and the rest will fall into place, step by step. You also need to know that hard work isn’t enough, and judging yourself on how hard you work, rather than how smart you work can be fatal. Stop putting down others, especially those in the same field as you, the moment you think you are in competition you lose focus and start worrying about what the other is doing that you forget to focus on your goals and fulfilling them, and always support others because you lose nothing anyway.
Please list any accolades you have achieved in the past few years?
I was elected Events Ambassador at the hospitality school I attended in Switzerland, and I was the first black person in the school to be a part of the SAF (Students Ambassadors Forum), as well as the first to hold down prestigious events that are currently still running in the school. Last year I was nominated top 3 by ZYAA (Zimbabwean Youth Achievers Awards) held in Atlanta, USA.
Whats your favourite Quote and why?
My favourite quote is “Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered.” by Jim Henson. This quote speaks to me in every way possible, because I feel I have fought so many battles for years, and a lot of things were ‘stolen’ from me, that I am starting to gain back slowly. One of them being confidence; I believe it was stolen from me, but I am destined for greatness because I am a child of God, and I am strong as the kingdom of God, the enemy has no power over me, and I speak that over my life everyday.
What books do you recommend a reading material for the young people in your field?
The books that have worked for me and that I recommend to people in my field are:
“Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi – because it talks about the power of relationships with people and networking that helps your business. Also, it is a self-help book that is aimed at elevating anyone who is trying to run a successful business, it has all the tricks, tips and hacks you will need in running a business. Another good book that I still go back to is “The Secret” it changed my life in so many ways, it is a journey designed to to help you experience gratitude on a whole new level. It teaches you to be positive and to see life differently, and teaches you that if you exercise gratitude it will fill your world with magic.
Lastly, who are your top 3 social media influencers and why?
Well, first one will be Shameless Maya because she teaches girls to be shameless, and that its ok to be who you are, you don’t need to conform to what society says is the right thing and that people should be free to be who they want to be.
The second one is, Daphne Madyara because she is pushing young believers to have faith in whatever they do and teaching women that we are all worthy to receive Gods Kingdom.
Lastly, Alexandra Elle because I think she’s strong and has overcome a lot of things, and the ability we have to choose in our darkest moments and how the small glimmer of choice can lead to the brightest outcomes. one thing I love is when she says; “walk in your truth and don’t let anyone make you feel like you are less than because of the choices you’ve made.”