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11 Jun 2019


Driven by the love for good food, hospitality industry and art, Zama Mbane (Zama May) gives hope to women from disadvantaged backgrounds. Be sure to follow Mfazana_the_chef on Instagram. You will never regret it.
interview with entrepreneur Zama Mbane
Who is Zama May? What drives Zama?
My name is Zama Mbane (nee' May) I was born in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. I am the eldest of two girls.  My younger sister passed on in 2015. I am married with two boys aged 20 and 16. My husband was born in the villages of Hogsback eTyume. We currently stay between Tyume and Umhlanga Rocks in KwaZulu Natal.

We heard the interesting story behind the name, Mfazana.
The name Mfazana_the_chef comes from a Xhosa phrase given to women who are married to Xhosa men by mostly older women in the community and the man’s extended family. I was also called “mfazana”, which never sat well with me. I decided to put a spin on it by using it so often that it was no longer offensive to me and everyone used it as my name. The same community women who gave me the name are not pleased because I embraced it, they are back to calling me Nwabisa which is the name they gave me when I got married.

Please give a brief summary of your business.
I love the hospitality industry; I love traveling and I love good food even more. I started off by offering my cooking services to family and friends at no fee. I would even use my money to do grocery shopping for their events for them to taste my dishes and at times, for them to try different dishes for events.  I am driven by the love of cooking, the love of the hospitality industry and the love of being a food artist. I decided to develop my cooking skills by enrolling at Capsicum Culinary Studio for a diploma in professional cookery program.
interview with entrepreneur Zama May
My business concept includes cooking as a private chef for functions, offering cooking classes to groups of people, offering one on one cooking lessons and opening pop up restaurants.

What inspired your niche of choice?
As alluded in the introduction, I love cooking and good food. That is where my inspiration comes from.  Cooking is not a job or a chore for me, it is a passion.

Is this your first business venture?
Yes it is.

Has your previous work or education prepared you adequately for your kind of business?
Not at all. This is my very first venture into the hospitality industry.

What are you most proud of when it comes to your business? 
Hospitality industry is very diverse with most people lacking understanding and exposure to it in the Eastern Cape. I am proud to be making my mark in my province of birth. Locals know where to get a chef that prepares gourmet meals in Alice and Hogsback.
Mfazana also prepares traditional meals with the same love and passion. I am also proud to be influential to the youth in the Eastern Cape. I receive emails and text messages from young people who enquire about my line of business and I give advice where I can. This gives so much hope to people in the rural settings. I am happy to be the one who brings the quality that the locals had accepted to be reserved for the cities. My plan is to inspire women from disadvantaged backgrounds. Kuyenzeka xa uzimisele “passion makes everything possible”.

What is your strategy to survive business trying times?
I am keeping my business as simple as possible. I am not going for high overheads in order for my business to grow and become sustainable.  I am building reserves that will help in keeping the business afloat during tough times. The plan is to leave a legacy and generational wealth for my children and their children.

What are some of the mistakes you now wish you could have avoided? And what did you learn from such mistakes?
My first mistake was mixing my business with friendship and offering my services for free. People never value what they get for free. I have since taken the professional approach whereby everyone is expected to make bookings for my services through the channels that everyone uses.

If you were not running Mfazana, what would you be doing?
If I wasn't doing this, I would be traveling, as alluded above, I love this whole industry including the travel or touring part of it.

Any advice to someone just starting out?
A business feasibility study and good business plan are important. Believe in yourself, face your fears, have a vision and act.

What is next for Zama? 
I am in the process of opening a restaurant in the Eastern Cape.

Inspirational quote
“Tackle life one dish at a time; ndiwagawula ndiwarhuqa” Zama Mbane

Final thoughts
Opportunities don’t just happen you create them yourself.

Zama Mbane shares her dishes on her Instagram page Mfazana_the_chef.
You may also contact her for bookings at 064 538 4316

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  1. So proud of Zama, she is amazing

  2. Wow. I am so impressed and I can't wait to try out your restaurant when I am back home in the Eastern Cape. Phambili Mfazana👊🏼

  3. Waiting with bated breath for that restaurant Mphankomo ❤

  4. Wow!!! I'm so proud of you sisZama... wishing you nothing but success you deserve everything good coming your way mwaaaaaah

  5. Well done gal. Wagawule uwarhuqa !!

  6. Yes Jola lam this is been long over due.
    We are right behind you to support.
    Camagu Okumhlophe.