Lwando Cawe: An entrepreneur making Karoo meat accessible to the masses
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The economic devastation that the Coronavirus pandemic continues to cause is well documented. The pandemic, however, has also fostered the emergence of new entrepreneurs, either due to necessity (following mass retrenchments) or due to the pockets of opportunity that any major social shift brings.
Lwando Cawe is one such entrepreneur who found his niche amid the pandemic. He owns Karoo Meat, a business he started when he spotted a gap in the market, thanks to Covid-19.
Cawe’s company sells and delivers grass-fed, free-range, and organically raised meat sourced from his family farm in the Karoo, in the Eastern Cape. The idea didn’t start as a business, however.
“Our farm is in the Gariep area, the Eastern Cape side of the Karoo. When I would travel to Gauteng, my friends would ask me to bring them Karoo meat from our farm. I also noticed that people were conscious about where they were getting the meat. I thought let me extend the family business farm and start this venture," Cawe said.
It was at this point that Cawe, who works as a farm manager at his family’s farm, decided to turn what was just a social exercise into a business. He said the frequent requests from friends made him realise the opportunity that was right in front of his eyes. “That is when Karoo Meat was born," he said.
He began delivering the meat straight from their farm in the Karoo to customers in Johannesburg and Pretoria.
"As a farmer, it is great to sell your meat to the abattoir, but you must find ways of diversifying your business. That is another reason I thought to start this business," he said.
He said his target market is the households and consumers who love Karoo meat.
Cawe said he saw a gap in the industry, and four months ago, he decided to take a leap of faith. "I've cut out the middle man and retailers. My meat comes straight from the farm to my customer's table. I promise my customers good quality and tasteful meat".
Cawe sells mutton and lamb, and he also delivers his product. He said his meat is its quality is A-grade. "Our sheep are free-range as they are from the Karoo. The Karoo is the best part to herd livestock as the climate is great for the animals," he said.
"My prices are affordable as well. I charge R130 per kilogram of lamb and R95 for mutton.
The entrepreneur said, since starting his business, it has been growing exponentially. "I started my business during the coronavirus pandemic. I wasn't sure that customers would buy the meat. I must say, I am happy with the growth of the business so far".
Cawe said, while he uses social media to advertise his business, his biggest challenge is to market the business.
He said while there was a huge interest in his business, he still wants to get his name out there.
"I am on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, but I feel that I could be reaching more customers. This is a small business, and I hope to see it grow.
Cawe said he plans to expand his business by selling pork and chickens. "I want to diversify my company so that it can grow and be stable".
He said starting a business was hard work, but it is all worth it. "You need to have patience, you need to listen to the customer's need, you also need to get to know your customer," he said.
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