It’s often been argued SMEs are the lifeblood of South Africa’s economy, given that they employ 50 to 60% of the country’s workforce. Cape Town Tourism sees supporting the sector as pivotal, which is why in 2013, the CTT Board of Directors took a collective decision to forfeit their annual board remuneration in favour of the Board Development Fund (BDF).

This fund assists Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) with support to develop their tourism businesses. Now in 2021, this fund is perhaps more needed than ever before. Mzansi Restaurant in Langa is the latest winner, encapsulating all the vision and potential the BDF panel looks for.

Mzansi – a vibrant, buffet style restaurant – was the brainchild of the late grandmother of the Siyaka family. She convinced her daughter and husband – who were hosting a jazz club at the time – to focus on the bustling market of international clients coming in and out of Langa, the Western Cape’s oldest township. In 2008, the family opened Mzansi’s doors. Today, it’s run by Mbasa Siyaka, the youngest son, who started as a floor runner and worked his way up to taking over the reins in 2018.

Speaking on how this BDF award will benefit their business, Siyaka says, “It has been a long journey for us to get to being an honoured beneficiary. Having been selected as one of the successful candidates for the Cape Town Tourism BDF programme serves as validation of the vision that was birthed by my grandmother.

With local lockdown restrictions easing, Mzansi restaurant is hoping to be at the forefront of the recovery of Cape Town’s tourist industry

“We wish to express our sincerest thanks to the Cape Town Tourism Board for not only providing Mzansi restaurant with the much-needed support to propel our growth, but also, for the realisation that SMMEs do not just need cash to grow. We also need an integrated approach that captures a wide but inter-dependent array of support,” he adds.

Cape Town Tourism Board Chairperson, Brett Hendricks says that providing support for local enterprises during this critical time is crucial.

Hendricks says, “Our BDF initiative is something we hope will inspire other organisations to invest in supporting small businesses. SMMEs are where South Africa’s growth comes from, and we cannot rely solely on government to fund and support them. The BDF supports tourism small businesses with marketing support, mentorship, supplier development and skills transfer, to be able to grow their ventures. We also support them by connecting them to our Cape Town Tourism members, partners and executive leadership.”

Lockdown and looking ahead

With local lockdown restrictions easing, Mzansi restaurant is hoping to be at the forefront of the recovery of Cape Town’s tourist industry.

“Before COVID-19 hit, we operated about six days a week, all year round, were rated number one on TripAdvisor and employed around 16 people, including front of house, kitchen staff, an in-house band, and car guards. Now, we find ourselves focused on two things: 1) The return of international clients under a new normal, and 2) expanding our off-site catering services to a more domestic market,” says Siyaka. CTT will now provide invaluable assistance as Mzansi embarks on a new chapter.

Enver Duminy, CEO of Cape Town Tourism says, “As Cape Town Tourism, we have been working together with other sectors in trying our best to contain the negative impact of lockdown on the local economy and saving jobs that we have been steadily growing across Cape Town. Our main focus is how best to move from crisis into recovery by adjusting our plans to be ready to welcome visitors back and assure them that Cape Town is a safe and healthy destination.”

Hendricks concludes, “As the official Destination Marketing & Management Organisation for the City of Cape Town, CTT aspires to change the perception that tourism is limited to certain parts of the city and its major attractions. Restaurants and small businesses like Mzansi not only demonstrate that Cape Town has so much to offer right across the peninsula but also support and provide job opportunities for lots of people within their communities.”

Mzansi is open 7 days a week by bookings only, so if you are looking for a memorable experience this holiday season, book your table by emailing nomonde@mzansi45.co.za