I believe that even after the most difficult period for our business, growth is on the cards.
Owner: Mr. Solly Mojapelo
Business: Carnival Biscuits
Sector: Retail and Manufacturing
Product: Gauteng Rebuilding Fund
Impact of funds: On 13 July 2021, the Carnival Biscuits retail outlet at Bara Mall, Soweto, was looted and completely vandalised. The business lost all its stock and all its movable equipment. In addition to theft, the store was damaged and flooded. Mojapelo applied for the Rebuilding Fund and his store was able to get it back to full trading before his busiest festive season period.
Growth on the Cards after GEP intervention
It was over 21 years ago when Solly Mojapelo, a teacher of English and Economics and his wife Rose, a chemical analyst, teamed up to turn what was then only a hobby into a successful business. Rose, a talented baker, and Solly, the budding salesman, realised that they could make a decent additional income from the demand for baked goods in the community.
“I used to sell cakes made from our domestic stove to my colleagues, and after school, I would always have deliveries to make, and we soon realised that with more effort, the business had the potential to grow. It was at this point that, much to the surprise of many that I took a plunge to leave my teaching job to run Carnival Biscuits full time”, explains Solly Mojapelo.
Today Carnival Biscuits has two retail stores and a manufacturing unit. The business employs 16 people. In addition to the directly employed personnel, the business has a profit-sharing programme with individual sellers who make a living by selling their products.
Mojapelo, who hails from Diepkloof, Soweto, realised that scaling the business to its current size would mean a change in their product lineup, and as a result the business turned its focus into biscuits. In 2001, the first retail store was opened at the Highgate Mall.
“We were not just content with making biscuits; we wanted to make the best biscuits. We essentially had our own product development and innovation unit, where we developed our own unique recipes,” explains Mojapelo.
As all businesses do, Carnival Biscuits has experienced its highs and lows. One of their most significant highs was winning the contract to supply long-distance bus company, Greyhound, with biscuits. “Winning the Greyhound contract was a pinnacle for us. It helped improve our quality standards, and we could create more jobs for the people in our community, says Mojapelo. In 2007, we opened our manufacturing space at the Crown Mines” adds Mojapelo.
In 2009, they opened the second retail outlet in Bara Mall.
It, therefore, came as a big blow to Carnival Biscuits when Greyhound announced that it would be closing its doors in February 2021. “Greyhound was our biggest client. The impact of their closure was devastating to us. However, we were still determined to keep the business going and find new customers”, Says Mojapelo.
2021 still had far more in store for the business. On Monday 12 July the Bara Mall Carnival Biscuits retail outlet was looted and completely vandalised. The business lost all its stock and all its movable equipment. In addition to theft, the store was vandalised with electrical and telephone cables ripped from the walls. The shop was also flooded causing thousands of rands worth of damage and leaving the store unable to trade for an extended period.
Mojapelo applied to the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller for the Gauteng Rebuilding Fund.
The funds he received from the Gauteng Rebuilding Fund helped the business get back to trading in time for its business period, the festive season. It has helped stabilise cash flow, replace damaged equipment, and just return to normal trading. Mojapelo draws lessons from this experience: “Our business was not insured, today even a spoon is insured”, he states.
Mojapelo is determined to get the business back on a growth path. “I believe that even after the most difficult period for our business, growth is on the cards for Carnival Biscuits”.