Siwela Masoga is one of the leading black female winemakers in South Africa. She’s the founder and CEO of Siwela Wines, a wine company she founded in 2018.
Masoga hails from Marulaneng, a small village in Ga Mphahlele, Limpopo. She wasn’t born with an entrepreneurial background, she was raised by single mother who’s an educator. Growing up, education was perceived as very important, and certainly mandatory at home.
She began her wine journey after graduating with a Diploma in Biotechnology, majoring in Fermentation and Microbiology at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
She then got a position as an intern at Waterstone Wines in Stellenbosch, where she was exposed to the cellar processing, vineyard practices, packaging and bottling of wines.
She landed another job at one of the biggest wines and spirit produce, focusing on the quality assurance and approval of wine and spirits from primary to secondary production.
During this time, her skills and knowledge on wine as a beverage and wine making began to broaden. She also worked casually with other wine farms to understand the customers perspective and expectations on wine. On top of that, she also completed various wine making and wine courses to understand wine much better.
Following 6 years of being in the wine industry, she developed a tremendous passion for wine and wanted to create a mark in the history books, while at the same time, inspiring the youth to be more active role players within the wine industry, which was previously known to be male and white dominated.
In 2018, once she was certain about starting Siwela Wines and some encouragement from Andrew de Vries(MD at Koelenhof), she decided to quit her job, and although this was a huge risk to take, she still enjoyed the process of building the business to what it is today.
Her first investment into the business was R30 000 which she had borrowed as a loan. The amount didn’t really do much besides covering some of the legal costs. Before the loan, she had taken some cash from her salary and savings for months to cover other related costs.
Siwela Wines started with a production of just 100 bottles of one variety, today the business includes a range of 9 different varieties producing over 8000 bottles of each variety.
When she began, her wines were marketed through social media and word of mouth. The wine is couriered to customers, many of whom order online on the Siwela Wines website. She also managed to break into retail as the years went by.
Siwela Wine Academy
To give back to the community, she registered the Siwela Wine Academy, a non-profit organisation to empower young underprivileged people by educating them about wine.
It is part of her vision to inspire more young people in the country to become active role players in the industry, and the best way to live up to the vision is through education and training.
According to Siwela, the biggest piece of advice she can give to aspiring entrepreneurs is to be passionate about what they’re doing.
Being passionate about what they do will always force them to work hard, and remain persistent during the inevitable tough times.
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