The journey so far: Ivan Mbowa, CEO, Umati Capital

Ivan Mbowa is the co-founder and CEO of Umati Capital, a Kenyan-based financial institution that provides credit and related payment technologies to agri-business supply chains, retailer value chains and fast-moving consumer goods manufacturers.

1. Tell us about one of the toughest situations you’ve found yourself in as a business owner.

One of the toughest situations that I faced in the early days of our lending business was having to make a sudden provision for loss on 90% of our loan book after discovering systemic customer-driven fraud.

As you can imagine, this led to a catalytic shutdown of debt funding lines, equity investor interest and key staff departures.

I would like to tell you that I immediately knew what to do, but I would be lying. I spent weeks like a deer in  headlights, questioning everything. This was the proverbial lowest of lows. However, one of the things I learned was that it is precisely at times like this that you discover who you truly are in the face of a devastating crisis.

To overcome this situation, I began the slow journey of literally rebuilding the business by quickly admitting where we went wrong, putting in place the right controls and processes, painting a new vision for the future and (painfully) trying to convince my investors and remaining staff to give us a second chance.

Now almost three years later, we are out of the woods and have grown loan volumes six times with a fraction of the bad debt (and having almost completed the full recovery of the 90% of the loan book that we wrote off).

2. Which business achievement are you most proud of?

I am most proud that five years after having started and against the odds, our startup is thriving after having been tested through existential crises.

A friend once told me that in the early days, running a startup is a game of attrition: in a game where 90% of your competition won’t be alive within three years of starting, to survive is to win.

On a more conventional basis, I would also add that I am proud of being able to transform a concept into a business, raising significant capital, recruiting an amazing team and proving that you could create a digital lending business that would seek to provide small businesses with access to uncollateralised working capital that could change their business fortunes. This is in an economy where the majority of banks have failed to provide accessible finance to small businesses.

3. Describe your greatest weakness as an entrepreneur.

One of my greatest weaknesses is conversely one of my greatest strengths. This is the ability to apply a laser-like focus to getting things done against the face of criticism or lack of faith in those around me.

This, of course, sounds like a great strength until you realise that this has also led to being less than quick to adjust course in business when the situation called for radical change in an opposite direction. I have prevented this from negatively impacting my company by having greater self-awareness [and] the guiding hand of a board of directors who ultimately form both a sounding board and an approval layer around strategic direction.

4. Which popular entrepreneurial advice do you disagree with?

I disagree with the conventional business wisdom that it is better to copy well than [to] invent badly.

You see this in a lot of markets in Africa, where a successful business concept is instantly replicated and true innovation is occasionally looked down upon.

My personal philosophy (borrowed heavily from Daniel Pink’s book “Drive”) is that I am only driven by work that is challenging, purposeful and that allows me a chance at self-mastery. Spending the better part of my years replicating the work of others would be a waste of my intellect and life.

5. Is there anything you wish you knew about entrepreneurship before you got started?

I wish I had known some of the greatest challenges in entrepreneurship would come from within and not outside of myself. The battle is truly won or lost in your mind.

Entrepreneurs are the mad ones among us who leave certainty for a chance at the improbable. Life will continuously remind you that you are playing against the odds. The moment you give up mentally, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Finally, as another friend told me at the beginning of my own entrepreneurial journey: there are two types of businesspeople in Africa – visionaries and hustlers. So choose your tribe and don’t waste your time trying to play by the rules of the other group.

Source: How We Made It In Africa

4 Common Leadership Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

As a leader, you’ve got a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. Despite your best efforts and intentions, mistakes can happen, and when they do, it’s important to deal with them in an open, professional manner. Here are some of the most common mistakes people in leadership positions make — and how to avoid them in the future.

In a startup environment, founders have to work very hard in the beginning stages to accomplish everything that needs to be done. It’s tempting to hire the first potential candidate as soon as your budget allows for it so you can start building a team to help you. However, hasty hiring can be detrimental to your business.

“We’ve hired too fast because our team was spread thin, and that ended up backfiring in a lot of ways,” said Mona Bijoor, founder and CEO of fashion startup JOOR. “People encourage you to hire, hire, hire. We’ve found that it’s best to take our time and go slowly.”

Bijoor cautions hiring managers to beware of candidates who don’t fit the company culture and don’t share the same passion and work ethic as the rest of the team. If a bad hiring decision is made and the employee simply isn’t right, it’s better to let them go as soon as possible rather than stick it out until someone better comes along.

“At the end of the day, you have to have the best team to execute your business,” Bijoor said. “You need to have the right chemistry of people.”

Sometimes, the problem with a new hire isn’t that he or she isn’t right for the job, but that you as a leader are expecting too much of that person too soon. Anthony Lolli, founder and CEO of real estate firm Rapid Realty, noted that a promising employee can fail if he or she isn’t given the proper tools.

“When you run a business, you eventually want to buy some freedom by hiring employees,” Lolli said. “You give them a week of training to do what you’ve been doing by yourself for two years and wonder why they weren’t able to survive.”

Take the time to thoroughly train your team members before leaving responsibilities fully in their hands, Lolli advised. If you don’t cut them enough slack in the beginning, they’ll either disappoint you, or become overwhelmed and leave.

A dangerous trap leaders can fall into is thinking their decision-making power means that their way is automatically the right one.

“Oftentimes, leaders assume that because they have the title, that makes them the thought leader,” said Mitchell Levy, author of “#Creating Thought Leaders Tweet” and CEO of THiNKaha. “They assume that what they say goes just because they say it, even if they act contrary to that.”

A related mistake leaders often make is to not critically listen to team members. Duggan Cooley, president and CEO of United Way of Pasco County, said leaders are sometimes so driven to get their point across and get the job done that they don’t take the time to hear what others are saying. This can lead to major communication problems within an organization.

To solve these issues, Levy urges leaders to take a step back and let others aggregate, curate and originate ideas both internally among the staff and externally to draw prospects and customers.

“You need to encourage this behavior and allow your team to get credit for their initiatives,” he said.

Leaders who like things done a specific way tend to think they’re the only ones who know how to do certain tasks. With a full schedule and a tremendous to-do list, bosses with the inability to delegate can quickly run out of time to get the really important tasks accomplished.

“The most critical thing you can do as a leader is know yourself and your style of leadership,” Cooley told BusinessNewsDaily. “If you’re overwhelmed, ask yourself if it’s because of [a lack of] delegation. Could you have gotten others involved? Should you have been asking people to get something done or deal with an issue, but didn’t?”

Cooley acknowledged that it can be difficult for leaders to ask others for help, especially when it comes to assessing their own challenges, but also noted that delegation to trusted colleagues can not only help build the morale of your team, but also take some responsibilities off your already-full plate.


What can you do to ensure that if you do make a mistake, you’ll still retain the trust and respect of your team? All four sources agree that admitting and owning up to an error is the first and most important step to recovery.

“Be clear about why the situation didn’t work and what failed,” Bijoor recommended. “It’s so important to talk with your team about why things didn’t go well.”

Similarly, Cooley noted that people appreciate honesty and humility when their leader makes a mistake. In fact, it can go a long way in helping to bring a team back together.

“As a leader, you not only lead the team, but you’re part of it,” he said. “Humility conveys that you’re not above others but working with them.”

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Business Leadership: Leading A Culturally Diverse Business Team

As I witnessed the rain dancing against the window panes of the Mega mall in Midvalley, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia I started reflecting on how to lead a culturally diverse business team.

Thousands of Malay, Chinese, Japanese, and Europeans passed me in the hallways of this gargantuan construction and the Dalai Lamas’ wise words reminded me that at the core of it all, irrespective of what your nationality is or what your belief system is, in general:

“We all want to experience joy and avoid suffering”

A key question that every team leader should carefully consider is how do we collectively experience joy and manage and/or avoid suffering as a business and as a team?

How can we as a diverse team be united in the joys of experiencing an expanding and successful business with a wonderful and constructive culture and avoid the suffering of a failing business and the negative experience of a toxic culture?  These are of course ‘loaded’ questions because inherent within these questions are the birthing of other key challenges –

How can we as Leaders create a relatively stable and inspirational environment from within which it is easier for each individual to unlock their vast potential when vast differences in upbringing, schooling, world views, and religious beliefs exists within one team. Especially when considering the ever changing and evolving business environment within which we operate?

Fulfilling the role of a Business Leadership coach, trainer, or life coach as the situation demanded over several years I have coached, Lead, or trained Pilipino, Chinese, Malay, African, and European people. A very key learning from my experiences is that a “cross cultural and shared understanding” can be created that transcends any spoken language or any national culture.

This common language and culture has many elements but for the purpose of this article I will focus on the three key aspects:

Have a united and focused purpose

When a united and focussed purpose exists for the business team that they collectively place higher than themselves the barriers of differences in upbringing, schooling, and world views can dissolve within their shared purpose. As business leaders we cannot refer to purpose too much, even more importantly that that, we must be living, walking and talking examples of the businesses’ purpose.

To simplify the concept of purpose it can be said that purpose is the highest intent for, or the very good reason why we do what we do. That reason is or should be even more important than ourselves. When we really love what we do and sincerely so our performance is likely to be very good, on the other hand if we totally dislike the line of business that we are in or totally despise our role within an entrepreneurial venture we are likely not going to unleash our unlimited potential.

It could be argued that the sole purpose for having a business is to make a profit. Through this article I argue that that is not a strong enough reason to sustain you and make you thrive even through difficult times. The strange thing is that when you truly live your purpose with all your might and tirelessly inspire your team to do the same the money comes anyway…

 Servant heart and attitude

Rabindranath Tagore famously said:

“I dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold service was joy.”

A servant heart is universal and transcends cultural difference, a sincere and giving smile is a beautiful language of its own that needs no translation. If that ‘servant heart and smile’ is underpinned by well-developed people and technical skills it multiplies into a potent combination of character, experience, and wisdom that has great influential power within any culture.

Whether it is through the use of interpreters, and even if it takes great patience, even when a lot of mistakes are made, persevere until everyone in the team understands that servant leadership is the key to winning the minds and hearts of others.

When all in the team becomes aware that we were only ever meant to master ourselves and thereby become better servants to all, this heightened awareness can unlock the unlimited potential within individuals in the team.

Respect for people and their worldviews

My favourite poet Rumi said:

‘The wound is where the light seeps in’

Respect all as we could not understand each individuals’ pain and hardships unless we went through it ourselves. Have compassion for all as we, in general expect compassion when we go through hardships. We can only imagine what sets of beliefs we would entertain where we to grow up in a completely different culture.

My endless curiosity and determination to learn has served me well as a coach for when your interest in others is sincere they tend to ‘open up’ to you and share and thereby you fasttrack your own learning and gain insights into your co-team members worldviews which in turn greatly enhances the team dynamics.

Be authentic and acknowledge your vulnerabilities, ‘wounds’ and shortcomings and be proud of your strengths for then your team members will help you to overcome your weaknesses and learn from your strengths.


Source: Entrepreneur Magazine

12 Burning Questions for the Entrepreneur Trying to Get You to Eat Bugs

Whether a crispy cricket on the end of a fork triggers your spirit for adventure or makes you want to gag, there’s no denying that edible insects will soon be part of the food landscape.

Indeed, in a 2013 paper, Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security, the United Nations outlined the key issue.

“To meet the food and nutrition challenges of today — there are nearly 1 billion chronically hungry people worldwide — and tomorrow, what we eat and how we produce it needs to be re-evaluated,” the authors wrote. “Inefficiencies need to be rectified and food waste reduced. We need to find new ways of growing food.”

Mohammed Ashour, co-founder and CEO of Aspire.
Image credit: Courtesy of Aspire

To get more insights into this growing trend, Entrepreneur spoke with Mohammed Ashour, co-founder and CEO of Aspire, which operates cricket farms in Texas and Ghana and produces cricket powder, among other products. The company recently acquired Exo, the makers of a cricket-powder protein bar that’s backed by Tim Ferrissand Nas. Collectively, the new company is likely the biggest in the edible insects space.

We quizzed Ashour about why people should eat insects, the technology involved in farming insects and the best insect dish he’s ever had.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

1. Why should we eat crickets and other insects?

You should eat crickets and other insects because they are nutritious, delicious and better for the environment than almost any other source of protein. Most sources of animal protein require dramatically more land, water and energy resources to produce. To put that in perspective, to produce one pound of beef, you need around 5,000 gallons of water, whereas to produce one pound of cricket protein, you need less than 5 gallons of water.

2. How do you convince people to eat insects?

Most people just need to try it once and that’s all it takes. But the challenge is, how do you get people to be willing to try? Part of that has to do with how you present the product. Some people are adventurous and won’t mind eating a cricket that still looks like a cricket. Other people would prefer you to grind crickets into a powder and then add that powder to a product they already enjoy and are familiar with, like bars, chips, protein beverages and other consumer packaged goods.

3. What about the people who are terrified of eating insects? How would you get them on board?

It’s not irrational to have a fear of insects. Insects can be disease vectors, they can destroy crops and in some circumstances they can be directly harmful to human beings. However, we focus on insects that are edible and safe to eat. People can start off by trying familiar products that use insects as an ingredient. Rather than having a bag of whole roasted crickets, perhaps they would be open to trying a peanut-butter chocolate chip protein bar made using cricket protein powder.

4. What are some of the products that feature edible insects?

Under our brand we sell bars that use cricket protein powder, which are high in protein and low in sugar. We also sell granola paleo bites and crispy crickets. There’s other companies that sell chips, pasta using crickets flour and other edibles like beef patties and sausages using insect protein.

5. What kind of technology is involved in farming insects?

We use automated robotic systems that deliver feed and water directly to crickets throughout their entire lives. So instead of a person going around and inserting food and water into every bin — we have thousands of bins in our facility — and calibrating that food and water to the needs of each cricket bin, we have robotic systems that do that automatically and measure exactly the amount of feed and water and record it.

That recording is actually registered in our cloud so that we can keep and compile a massive data archive on how that particular bin has been serviced throughout its life. Because of that we can use theoretically blockchain to keep a ledger of every bin in the entire history of our facility and to know the relationship of the different bins to one another and which crickets ultimately gave rise to which future progeny bins and so on and so forth.

Image credit: Courtesy of Aspire

We have IoT sensors throughout our entire facilities to capture second-by-second data about different parameters like heating, cooling, temperature, humidity, water distribution, air flow, air ventilation, oxygen levels and things of that sort to help us constantly respond and improve the environmental conditions for farming.

6. Why acquire Exo, the cricket-powder protein bar company?

The merger makes a lot of sense if you think about any early stage industry where vertical integration can be essential to improving the product value proposition to the end consumer. Consumers more than ever want to understand where their food is coming from. Who’s farming it? What is the food that their food ate? What things did their food get exposed to? Did you use chemicals, antibiotics, any types of things like that that don’t resonate with these consumer preferences?

There’s a strong need for some type of supply chain transparency. One of the best ways to understand consumers is to actually have a consumer brand. So by being a company that can address the supply chain side and also understand the consumer, we are able to stretch the journey truly from farm to table.

There are some added value benefits like reduced costs, improved customer retention and loyalty because there is an increased level of accountability and transparency.

7. Can you name some famous people who are supportive of the collective company’s mission?

Tim Ferriss was actually an early investor in Exo. John Chambers, the former CEO of Cisco, is a major investor in Aspire. Mark Melancon of the San Francisco Giants was a huge supporter. Nas the rapper was also an investor in Exo. That’s just a handful of folks. It’s also worth noting that there’s a number of celebrities that have come out talking about how they enjoy eating insects. Nicole Kidman, Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie are three that come to mind right away.

8. What are some of the countries that eat the most insects?

In Asia you have places like Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan and China. In Africa you have Ghana — we have a farm here. Many parts of Africa: Botswana, South Africa, Kenya, Senegal, Togo, Benin, Niger and Nigeria. Most of Latin America, and of course in North America you have Mexico, where insects are prominently consumed.

The common statistic that the United Nations cites is that 80 percent of the world’s countries have a tradition of consuming insects.

9. Why do the world’s wealthy nations need to adapt to eating insects?

There’s a need to adapt to it because of the sheer shift in how we’re producing food around the world and trends like reduced land, water, energy, more urbanization, higher population.

There’s also the fact that if you look at the history of most of our food, almost all began with a very inglorious and tough sell, but ended up at the top of the menu. Lobsters are an excellent case in point, but so is shrimp and sushi. Most people think insects are the food of the poor, but that could not be further from the truth. If you go to countries like Mexico, for example, one kilogram of grasshoppers is actually more expensive than beef, chicken and pork. It’s not actually a food of the poor. It’s a delicacy of the very wealthy.

10. What’s the most creative insect dish you’ve ever had?

In Mexico, I had the most delicious tamale that was made with a base that uses grasshoppers. It was peppered with flakes of cricket. On top of that it was garnished with ant eggs, which is called escamol. It was divine.

11. When do you hope to see a big turning point with edible insects?

A major turning point was in 2013, when the United Nations published a landmark report that put edible insects on the map in most parts of the world in economic and financial circles. In 2015 there were some very significant investments made into this industry and some early-stage companies. There’s a number of major retailers that are soon going to be launching cricket products for the first time.

12. What is on the horizon in the edible insects’ space?

Major retail launches, new product development and tons of growth in food service and other distribution channels (think: sports stadiums, airline snacks, convenience stores). This industry is rapidly approaching a tipping point, and we are excited to be at the forefront of this exciting market transition.

Source: Entrepreneur

South Africa’s ‘Big Five’ Growth Opportunities

In the two decades since South Africans worked together to transform their political landscape and usher in a new democracy, the country has made remarkable progress. In particular, GDP has nearly doubled in real terms, lifting millions of people out of poverty and into the middle class and greatly expanding access to services. Yet since 2008, average annual GDP growth has slowed to just 1.8 percent, while unemployment has stubbornly remained at 25 percent. Given the country’s vibrant public life and dynamic business sector, South Africa has no shortage of ideas, but a tone of pessimism is growing as many worry that the economy is stuck in a low-growth trap.

A new McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report, South Africa’s big five: Bold priorities for inclusive growth, recommends reigniting the country’s economic progress by focusing on five opportunities: advanced manufacturing, infrastructure, natural gas, service exports, and the agricultural value chain. If government and businesses prioritize them, these five initiatives alone could by 2030 increase GDP growth by a total of 1.1 percentage points per year, adding 1 trillion rand ($87 billion) to annual GDP and creating 3.4 million new jobs.


Here are the “big five” opportunities we’ve identified—and why:

  • Advanced manufacturing. South Africa can draw on its skilled labor to grow into a globally competitive manufacturing hub focused on high-value-added categories such as automotive, industrial machinery and equipment, and chemicals. To realize this opportunity, South African manufacturers will have to pursue new markets and step up innovation and productivity.
  • Infrastructure productivity. While the country is investing heavily in infrastructure, big gaps remain in electricity, water, and sanitation. A true partnership between the public and private sectors could make infrastructure spending up to 40 percent more productive by maximizing the use of existing assets and increasing maintenance, prioritizing projects with greatest impact, and strengthening management practices to streamline delivery.
  • Natural gas. South Africa’s electricity shortage has constrained growth, and, despite new capacity, another shortfall is projected between 2025 and 2030. Natural-gas plants—which are fast to build, entail low capital costs, and have a small carbon footprint—can provide an alternative to diversify the power supply. With the necessary regulatory certainty, we estimate that South Africa could install up to 20 gigawatts of gas-fired base-load power-generation capacity by 2030. Gas can be provided through imports, local shale-gas resources (if proven), or both.
  • Service exports. South Africa has highly developed service industries, yet it currently captures only 2 percent of the rest of sub-Saharan Africa’s market for service imports, which is worth nearly half a trillion rand ($38 billion). With the right investments, service businesses could ramp up exports to the region; and government can help by promoting regional trade deals. In construction, the opportunity ranges from design to construction management to maintenance services. In financial services, promising growth areas include wholesale and retail banking, as well as insurance.
  • Raw and processed agricultural exports. With consumption rising in markets throughout sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, South Africa could triple its agricultural exports by 2030. This could be a key driver of rural growth, benefiting the nearly one in ten South Africans who depend on subsistence or smallholder farming. Capturing this potential will require a bold national agriculture plan to ramp up production, productivity, and agroprocessing.

Successfully delivering on these priorities will move South Africa closer to realizing its long-held vision of a “rainbow nation” characterized by shared prosperity for all. But first, the country will need to embrace some fundamental changes to become more globally competitive; not least, it will have to address a serious skills shortage through a dramatic expansion of vocational training. Tackling such foundational issues will require business and government to come together in a new partnership characterized by shared vision, collaboration, and trust.

Richard Dobbs is a director of the McKinsey Global Institute, where Susan Lund is a partner; David Fine is a director in McKinsey’s Johannesburg office, where Paul Jacobson is a consultant, Acha Lekeis a director, and Nomfanelo Magwentshu and Christine Wu are principals.


Starting a food business in South Africa

You have a great recipe for rusks, you want to sell at the local flea market or perhaps you would like to become a home chef? Whatever your food business may be, our two part article explain the process  into 10 actionable steps for you.

The fundamentals of food safety

Hopefully by now you have discovered that in order to manufacture food in South Africa or open a restaurant or coffee shop, you have to comply with the Hygiene regulation under the Foodstuffs Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, Act 54 of 1972. Yes, the regulation used to be under the Health Act, but it was moved. Of course, it is still a matter of public health concern.

So what does regulation R962 – “Regulations governing general hygiene requirements for food premises and transport” actually say in plain English?


1. You must have a valid certificate of acceptablity

You must apply for this certificate at your local department of environmental health. You should have this certificate before you start to trade. Try this link for the contact details: Department of Environmental Health

The best option is to actually go into the offices rather than call.


2. Your facility must look like a food facility

Not a scrap yard. It needs to be in an area that doesn’t pose a risk to the processes or the food handled. Open ground can lead to rodent infestation, dust from the neighbor can contaminate the product. If the environment is not idea and you cannot move, you need to apply additional measures to keep the outside from becoming a problem on the inside.


The regulation puts the onus on you to protect food by the best available method against contamination or spoilage by poisonous or offensive gases, vapours, odours, smoke, soot deposits, dust, moisture, insects or other vectors, or by any other physical, chemical or biological contamination or pollution or by any other agent whatsoever.


The design of a food facility must also be conducive to easy cleaning. The regulation uses the words, smooth, easy to clean, non-porous when describing walls, ceilings and floors. Be careful with tiles as the grout may be porous.

The facility must be adequately ventilated to remove the build up of steam. Any cooking appliances will require extraction hoods. Lighting must also be sufficient. In both cases the national building regulations apply. Kitchens for restaurants must also be of a minimum size for the number of patrons. If you are changing the building or designing a new one – make sure your plans are approved first.

Your facility must also be pest proof – flies and rodents are specifically mentioned. This means keeping them out so there should be no open windows unless these are screened, grates on drains and no opening in walls. Rubber strips on the bottom of doors will further discourage rodents.

Your waste water system must be approved by the EHP. Fat traps should be installed.

There must be a wash up facility for cleaning purposes. NOTE! This is NOT the handwash basin.

3. Enough toilets and handwash basins

You will need to provide the right number of toilets for the employees and the patrons if you have a restaurant. The regulation provides a table with the number of toilets you will need.

Each bathroom must have running hot and cold water, soap – always use liquid soap and a means to dry hands.

Rather use paper towels or adequately powered hot air dryers. Make sure there is a waste bin too. The occupational health and safety act regulations also require you to provide sanitary bins in ladies toilets.

The toilets cannot open directly onto the restaurant or the kitchen/food preparation areas. There must be a lobby/double door configuration at least.

Toilets should obviously be cleaner very regularly and preferably not by kitchen staff. NOTE! There still have to be more handwash basins in the food preparation areas.

4. A place for everything and everything in its place

There should be enough space for all activities in your process. This should be storage areas for food that are separate from storage areas for food and ingredients. Ideally you should keep raw food and any cooked/heat processed products separately.

There must be a specific designated area for waste containers.

There must be a place for staff to change and store their personal clothing away from food handling activities. Staff should not change in the toilets.

5. The right tools for the job

All the equipment used in a food handling facility must be fit-for-purpose. You have to consider that items will be used repeatedly so domestic equipment will not last. Rather spend the money and invest in industrial equipment.


Any surface that is in contact with food must not be a source of contamination so these surfaces should be smooth, rust-proof, non-toxic and non-absorbent material that is easy to clean. Wooden chopping boards are not ideal.

Crockery, cutlery and any other utensils must not be chipped or cracked and must be cleaned before used.


The second part of our article looks at hygienic practices and the duties of the boss and the food handlers.


The fundamentals of food safety


In Part 1 of this article you will have discovered that in order to manufacture food in South Africa or open a restaurant or coffee shop, you have to comply with the Hygiene regulation under the Foodstuffs Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, Act 54 of 1972. Yes, the regulation used to be under the Health Act, but it was moved. Of course, it is still a matter of public health concern.

So what does regulation R962 – “Regulations governing general hygiene requirements for food premises and transport” actually say in plain English?

6. How to display, store and transport food

Food must not be stored directly on the floor. This includes all ingredients too. Always store on a pallet or crate to ensure it cannot be contaminated.


Food on display must be protected – no fingers, no flies, no dust, no condensation. Look at how you handle a buffet or salad displays in a retail store. Food in storage must also be protected – make sure you cover all containers.


Temperature is a critical issue to ensure the safety of your food. Make sure hot is hot and cold is cold. In fact, make sure you keep to the following:



These temperatures should be monitored regularly and be recorded. Think about it – otherwise how would you prove it when there is an alleged complaint. You will need an accurate thermometer.


7. The right PPE for food handlers

While a uniform can be trendy and build your brand, it’s up to you to ensure your food is protected from the people handling it. To this end, it’s up to you to clothe them with proper protective clothing. This clothing is to protect the food primarily so it must be clean and not a source of contamination. If buttons can fall off into your coleslaw, that would be contamination. So, in general we avoid buttons, zips and the like.

White clothing is always the best – you guessed it – it does show the dirt off and then you should wash it frequently. By the way, it is up to YOU to keep it clean, not the employee. Best to use a professional service who have a good reputation in the food industry. You will need more than one set of clothing. Ideally three sets will ensure you have a clean change daily.

Long sleeves are always the best option.

Hair should always be covered – to avoid it falling into food. Yes I know hairnets are not sexy….tough, deal with it and make sure you set a good example.


8. The responsibility of the person in charge of the food facility

If your name is on the certificate of acceptability – the buck stops with you!

The law makes you responsible for the following:

• Adhering to the legislation
• Doing the right things to keep flies, other insects, rodents or vermin under control on the food premises;
• Making sure any person working on the food premises is adequately trained in food hygiene and that your staff follow the regulations
• Ensuring waste and waste containers are handled correctly to that it does not create a Nuisance or health hazard
• Keeping the food premises and all facilities, freight compartments of vehicles and containers are clean and free from any unnecessary materials that have a negative effect on the general hygiene of the food premises;
• Supervising staff to ensure that no person handling non-prepacked food wears any jewellery
• Making sure there are no animals around food handling areas
• Esure that there are no unhygienic practices taking place at the facility.
• Make sure no one handles ready-to-consume non-prepacked food with his or her bare hands, unless it is unavoidable for preparation purposes.
• Finally keep records of illness and conditions you and your staff may suffer from as listed in the law which could potentially be transmitted via food.

9. The duties of the food handler

It’s not just you, although obviously, you will be accountable at all times. The law speaks directly to your staff too regarding the following:

Your staff must know that:

Food shall not be handled by any person –
• whose fingernails, hands or clothes are not clean;
• who has not washed his or her hands thoroughly with soap and water or cleaned them in another effective manner –
o immediately prior to the commencement of each work shift;
o at the beginning of the day’s work or after a rest period;
o after every visit to a latrine or urinal;
o every time he or she has blown his or her nose or after his or her hands have been in contact with perspiration or with his or her hair, nose or mouth;
o after handling a handkerchief, money or a refuse container or refuse;
o after handling raw vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat or fish and before
o handling ready-to-use food;
o after he or she has smoked or on return to the food premises; or
o after his or her hands have become contaminated for any other reason.

They also need to know that if they are ill with diarrhea or vomiting, it is best not to come to work. Trust me, you would rather they were not there than risk infecting the entire production or restaurant seating for the day. Don’t forget to keep a record of this though – it’s the law.
Any cuts, abrasions, abscesses or skin condition on their hands and arms should also be immediately reported to you. You will need a first aid box to be able to provide treatment and then gloves to cover the dressing to avoid it landing in your potato salad.
You will need to ensure you staff behave hygienically and therefore do not do any of the following:
• spit in an area where food is handled or on any facility;
• smoke or use tobacco in any other manner while he or she is handling non-prepacked food or while he or she is in an area where such food is handled;
• handle non-prepacked food in a manner that brings it into contact with any exposed part of his or her body, excluding his or her hands;
• lick his or her fingers when he or she is handling non-prepacked food or material for the wrapping of food;
• cough or sneeze over non-prepacked food or food containers or facilities;
• spit on whetstones or bring meat skewers, labels, equipment, or any other object used in the handling of food or any part of his or her hands into        contact with his or her mouth, or inflate sausage casings, bags or other wrappings by mouth or in any other manner that may contaminate the         food;
• walk, stand, sit or lie on food or on non-hermetically sealed containers containing food or on containers or on food-processing surfaces or other        facilities;
• use a hand washbasin for the cleaning of his or her hands and simultaneously for the cleaning of facilities; or
• while he or she is handling food, perform any act other than those referred to above which could contaminate or spoil food.
A long list which is ideally incorporated into a code of conduct which all employees should sign, including you. You might have to use it as a reminder from time to time. Old habits do die hard so expect to be talking about this daily. It’s best to have a formal inspection every day to keep everyone honest.

10. How to transport food hygienically

Finally, the law does address how you transport food. If you have your own vehicles, they are usually covered by your certificate of acceptability. If you use an outsourced provider, please make sure they have certificates of acceptability for their trucks.
Trucks must be clean – obviously. You cannot transport food with any of the following:
• contaminated food or waste food;
• poison or any harmful substance;
• a live animal; or
• any object that may contaminate or spoil the food.

So tackle these 1o items and you are well on your way to compliance with the most basic legal requirement of the country. Even street vendors are required to comply with this one. And when you see your local EHP – please give them a hug!

By Linda Jackson

Source: Food Focus

Is travel compensation still worth the chase?

If you had to choose, would it be company car or travel allowance? It’s a question that regularly plagues both employers and employees. In light of new Sars requirements for travel reimbursements, it needs to be carefully revisited.

Important changes

The limit of 12 000km that was previously applied to reimbursements has now been removed. If travel exceeded this distance in the past, it was reimbursed at a per kilometer rate higher than that prescribed by Sars and the total amount needed to be reflected under code 3702. However, reimbursement paid at or below the prescribed rate was declared under code 3703. Either way, PAYE was not deducted from the employee’s income.

From March 1, if an employer reimburses staff at a per kilometer rate higher than that prescribed by Sars, they have to split any reimbursement into two components. The portion that falls within Sars’s rate must be declared using code 3702 while the portion above that rate must be reflected under a new code, 3722. If the employer also pays a fixed travel allowance, this is declared separately with code 3701 as usual.

Under this new system, the excess reimbursed portion is subject to PAYE just like a fixed travel allowance or fuel, garage and maintenance cards. Reimbursement at or below the prescribed rate is reported using code 3702 as before.

More important than the new code and method of calculation, is the removal of the 12 000km limit and the introduction of PAYE on the excess portion. These changes affect the reward dynamics significantly.

Employers should therefore review the new rule to ensure their workers are enjoying the best tax and cost benefits, especially those who reimburse certain segments of personnel well over the prescribed rate.

It may be that a lower reimbursement rate puts more money into an employee’s pocket, as there is no PAYE thereon and the reimbursement does also not have to be substantiated by a logbook on filing of the employee personal income tax return.

Either way, the compliance around the new rules makes it important for all employers to enforce compulsory employee logbooks, even where the employee does not claim on a tax return. We know employer PAYE audits is a Sars focus area and employee logbooks is critical for the employer to evidence tax compliance.

Is it time to offer a company car?

In seeking travel compensation that is fair and rewarding to a worker, it is a good opportunity to decide if they would benefit from a company car. As a rule of thumb, if more than 60% to 65% of an employee’s travel is for business purposes, they are losing out by using their personal vehicle.

Typically, fuel only makes up 50% of the total cost of running a car. Additional expenses, like maintenance and insurance, or depreciation on the vehicle are not covered by travel allowances, reimbursements or fuel cards. A highly mobile employee may also have to bear the early replacement costs of their private car.

The vehicle buying habits of South African employers and employees remain routed in emotion and decisions are not made based on running the numbers. This causes the employer to be burdened with too high fleet costs, while the employee is mostly significantly out of pocket, often only realising the mistake when they want to trade in their vehicle.

There remains a sweet spot for travel reimbursement, reimbursement with travel allowance and company vehicles. The employers who care about the cost and staff allows all three, as part of their Total Package approach. Especially for employees on high business travel, the employee is severely disadvantaged where not on a company vehicle. If an employer does the calculation correctly, they will see that a company vehicle is the best reward strategy in this case.

I advise that organisations engage their reward specialist to ensure their employees receive the appropriate package for their needs.

-By Jerry Botha

Jerry Botha is the master reward specialist and executive committee member of the South African Reward Association.

Source: MoneyWeb

Why Your Latest Tech Investment Might Not Be Wowing Your Customers

You might have seen that customers don’t respond to disruption. PwC partner Quinton Pienaar says there could be many reasons for this. But the short answer is probably that in your understandable rush to stay relevant and keep up with the latest technology trends and developments, you lost sight of your number one priority. You’re just not that into your customers – and they know it.

It’s fairly easy to get dazzled by the array of technologies out there. But the trap that you’ve got to guard against is that you start seeing the world through a technology lens, rather than a customer one. Remember, technology is a tool, not an outcome. It’s the means to the end, not the end itself.

1. Invest in the right technology for your business

That’s not to say you shouldn’t be transforming your business digitally. You absolutely should.

But there’s a big difference between investing in technology to keep up with the Joneses, and investing in technology that’s going to drive specific business outcomes and improve the customer experience.

In fact, it would be downright dangerous to ignore the game-changing benefits that the current wave of emerging technologies brings to the table.

To understand what they can do for your business, you have to know what they are. We at PwC talk about the ‘essential eight’:

  • The Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are the building blocks for the next generation of digital work.
  • Robotics, drones, and 3-D printing are all about machines that extend the reach of computing power into the material world.
  • Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) merge the physical and digital realms, and offer incredible advances in customer experience.
  • Blockchain rethinks our approach to commercial transactions by allowing participants to exchange value, and verify ownership of something, without a third party.

2. How to support customer engagement

Some of these technologies are verging on science fiction. So how do we use them in a way that supports customer obsession?

The starting point of any successful customer transformation is a customer-focused design that brings together three essential elements – business strategy, customer experience and technology – into a coherent, fully-fledged digital strategy.

In other words, today’s most successful companies have a strategy that is focused around a simple and regularly-updated list of priorities.

They incorporate the new generation of technologies like IoT, blockchain and AI. But they keep their people, and their customers at the core of their business by designing strategies that directly address customers’ underlying needs and desired outcomes.

3. Why you should be focusing on the customer journey

This sounds dead obvious. But what we find is that many companies we talk to are focused on growing their revenues, or making improvements to their products and services, rather than creating better customer experiences. Or they have the strategy, but are battling to execute it effectively.

Of course, to underpin this customer transformation journey, you’re going to need some data and the foundational technologies on which today’s innovations depend – data mining and analytics, mobile, and cloud. You may also need to rethink your processes to manage, enrich and maintain data, and operationalise it throughout your business.

So you have all of that in place? Good. Now stop. Breathe. Ask yourself whether your technology and data are truly supporting an unwavering focus on the customer.

Because if you take one message from this article, let it be this: in today’s marketplace, putting your customer at the centre of your business is imperative to driving growth and profitability, winning market share and unlocking the value of your technology investments.

Source: Entrepreneur Magazine

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