Women in Business: MATAWI

In 2016, at the height of the worst drought Cape Town had experienced in centuries, entrepreneur Khanya Mncwabe and friends gathered and considered what they could do to alleviate pressure on the water while meeting a customer need.  


And so MATAWI was born, an alcoholic honey beverage brand that strives to be environmentally and socially responsible.  


In addition to conserving water, MATAWI aims to preserve the indigenous knowledge of gogos who’ve perfected the craft of making iqhilika and to incorporate them and small honey suppliers into the company’s value chain. 


“Because unlike other forms of alcohol, such as wine and beer, mead only uses for production – it is not made from fruits or grains that must be watered for months. This translates to HUGE water-saving! But not only is MATAWI eco-friendly: it is made from all-natural ingredients, it draws on wine-making techniques for a more refined and low-sugar mead and it is distinctive and delicious,” shares Khanya, co-founder and CEO of MATAWI. 


The MATAWI range includes braggot (a honey ale), still mead, distilled mead (honey gin), fortified mead (mead liquor) and mead mixers (lightly carbonated, flavoured meads enjoyed on their own or as a complement to MATAWI spirits). 


“We want our range to appeal to as many people as possible for greater water savings. MATAWI positions itself as a guilt-free, conscious-clear alcoholic beverage (it must still be consumed responsibility!).” 


Khanya shares she found being part of Women in Business beneficial to her business and appreciated having peer connections in the time of Covid-19.  


“Although instruction was virtual, I formed such meaningful connections with many of the ladies on the course. A safe space was created almost from the onset – no one was made to feel as if they were asking ‘stupid’ questions. I’ve also been encouraged by the groups’ plans to convene networking opportunities and possibly even business collaborations. I’ve grown tremendously and been inspired by businesswomen who are further on their journey than I am (but who were vulnerable and frank about the fact that its a steadfast journey that remains challenging). And I’ve come out of the process feeling more equipped to more strategically and systematically tackle MATAWI’s growth.” 


She encourages other entrepreneurs to join the programme.  


“There was a good balance between business fundamentals (marketing, legal and financial compliance), tech tools (the whole gamut from creative tools, to cloud services, automated bookkeeping, etc.) and then the softer business skills (how to prioritise, strike a work-life balance). WiB is thus a holistic toolkit designed to meet as many of a business woman’s needs as possible (what a special touch only having women facilitate the process!).” 


If you are a female founder/CEO and would like to participate in the Women in Business Programme for 2020, apply now. 

Fiona Tabraham

Fiona Tabraham is a strategic workforce development expert with a career founded on a resolute commitment to inclusivity, talent nurturing, and societal impact. Chief Executive of CAPACITI Digital Career Accelerator, Fiona’s passion for equity has charted pathways across numerous organisations, guiding bespoke Talent Initiatives, Future Leadership Development Programs, and transformative Career Pathway Development. Her tenure at Network Rail bore inclusive talent strategies, STEM advocacy, and innovative Graduate, Apprentice, and Internship initiatives. A trusted partner to a number of governmental, corporate and impact driven entities, Fiona empowers individuals and organisations, fostering diverse recruitment practices and innovative talent strategies. Fiona’s impact transcends the tech sector, positioning her as a leading voice for inclusive digital career initiatives.