Delight “Dee” Mapasure, co-founder of K’s Wors boerewors, has won the Enterprise Vision Award – the North West’s leading business award for female entrepreneurs.
With this win, female entrepreneurship has received a much-needed boost … and it’s all down to a string of sausages! Manchester based K’s Wors boerewors are a delicious brand of sausages inspired by Southern African cuisine.
With fewer than 2% of Britain’s food and drink business estimated to be Black-owned, this Natwest-backed Enterprise Vision Award is a well-deserved vindication that is as fragrant as the meaty sausages themselves.
This victory will be particularly sweet for Dee Mapasure. Imagine any setback you can think of, and this Zimbabwean advocate of Southern African cuisine has faced it and turned those rejections from ‘foodie pessimists” and doom-mongers into fuel for her determination to succeed.
Speaking exclusively to Melan Magazine, Dee said: “I can look back on 19 out of 20 straight rejections for funding from mainstream banks, seeding operations, start-up loans and incubator programs 12 months ago.”
Dee adds: “Today, Costco orders now equate to approximately 1 tonne of boerewors a week, our Ocado/online shop sales are soaring and yet despite all this we retain the unflinching loyalist support of a proud Afro-Caribbean store, farm shop and deli community, who’re all proud to see their food heritage find its voice.”
As a Black woman, Dee’s rejections and naysayers ran the gamut from racist to sexist and ageist. From ‘we don’t think your range has validity’ and ‘you have no food industry background pedigree,’ to ‘isn’t this really little more than a hobby and ‘wouldn’t you be better off at home with the kids?’! If that wasn’t demeaning enough, Dee even approached a category expert who told her ‘Southern African provenance had no place in a UK chiller cabinet’. Whilst a very courteous ‘no thanks’ from the Dragon’s Den team was perhaps less of a surprise when you consider that the esteemed panel included a vocal ‘sausage detractor,’ an ardent vegetarian and a Dragon with other ‘sausage commitments.’
Despite all of this, 12 months on (from a meagre £70k bottom-line), and K’s Wors can proudly point towards x9 fold growth that shows no sign of slowing down. With flavours ranging from Chilli & Garlic, Countrystyle and Chakalaka, it’s not difficult to see why.
Dee adds: “Our export sales have begun to motor, and we’ve just recruited our first Commercial Director and Marketing Manager.”
In view of the wane in popularity of the hearty sausage in favour of vegan options and a healthier approach to meals in general, Dee has openly addressed this new reticence with an enticing twist in the narrative.
On her website her words are light and encouraging. She said: “Of course a healthier lifestyle is to be embraced with open eyes, but if you’re going to break ranks every so often, do it for something truly worthwhile, which is why we champion small batches of ‘top-notch’ bangers made with best-in-class British meats, South African spices and the very finest culinary TLC!”
As a businesswoman with the battle scars to show for her trials, Dee is keen to ensure others are spared a similar fate. She is keen to make herself available to any future Northern foodpreneur looking for exactly what she needed on her journey but never received, a positive discussion or informal pep talk because that’s what she’d have welcomed more than anything when she started out to set her straight and buoy her up when she needed it.
At Melan Magazine we expect big things from this iron lady and look forward to seeing more of the tempting flavours of Southern Africa in her seasoned sausages around next summer’s BBQs.
This article was written by Katrina Marshall