Diva's Sauces born out of trial and error

Diva's Sauces founder Devine Mabuela and co-founder Rolihlahla Melitafa.
Diva's Sauces founder Devine Mabuela and co-founder Rolihlahla Melitafa.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

It all started as a playful act in the kitchen while preparing home-cooked meals for Devine Mabuela to realise she had the potential and ingredients to start a sauces and marinade business.

Mabuela says she enjoyed making relish and dips in her kitchen in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni, by blending different ingredients when preparing marinades for her fiance and his friends' braais.

When Mabuela, 34, lost her job in 2016 her fiance Rolihlahla Melitafa, who is now her business partner, advised her to rather formally start Diva's Sauces, a business producing home-made sauces and marinades.

"I started with LaDiva Peri Peri because I used to make it for every braai occasion. It is now part of a range of seven home-made sauces," says Mabuela.

Mabuela believes the misfortune of losing her job, after which she discovered her business acumen, was a blessing in disguise.

Although the business is thriving, Mabuela says she is still doing it on a part-time basis from her kitchen - they don't have a formal store - and sell online.

The entrepreneur says it has not been smooth sailing, it took some trial and error to perfect the flavours.

"As they say, practice makes perfect. My measurements and mixing formula were not consistent, but through practice and patience I perfected them."

It was through Melitafa's financial backing that the couple managed to get the business up and running.

"We could not go for business loans or anything of that sort because Devine had just lost her job. Luckily, the business is sustaining itself," says Melitafa.

Diva's Sauces sells about 1000 250ml bottles a month to their online customers and local chisa nyamas and kota outlets.

Melitafa says they canvassed the views of their customers before naming the different flavours

"We wanted to keep it African with a kasi feel, while keeping the word sauce in it.

The sauces are varied and range from the famous LaDiva Peri Peri to LaDiva Epholile, which is the mildest of the chilli range, as well as Habanero Habashwe, one of a trio of extra hot chilli flavours that was also named by the customers.

The latest flavour is Lemon Kunakisisa, which has a range of four sauces, including Mabuela, introduced a few weeks ago and named after the businesswoman.

Melitafa says Diva's Sauces have already crossed the Limpopo river into Zimbabwe.

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