The Ubusi Story
Ubusi Honey is a company that is managed and owned by Msokoli Zilani, a township resident who runs his business from his home in Mandela Park (Makhaya) in Khayelitsha. The company is 4 years old but the owner’s passion for honey comes a long way from his childhood days, 40 years ago in late 70s. Msokoli grew up in a farm in the Eastern Cape where he and his friends used to go and search for honey in the bushes after school. They did this in order to sink their teeth into the sweet honey dripping combs that they managed to retrieve from a natural hive they found either on the ground or in an old tree trunk.
On leaving the farm in the early 80s, he continued to receive the delicacy he loved from his best friend who was still staying and working on the farm. After moving to Cape Town in the late 80s, he lost contact with his best friend and he resorted in buying honey from the supermarkets. However, it soon became clear that this was not the same honey he used to enjoy on the farm. But Msokoli thought, “half honey is better than no honey at all”. In 2016, while driving down one of the roads in Gordon’s Bay area, he came across an old man in a white bakkie selling “Raw” unprocessed honey on the side of the road. Msokoli started buying one jar of honey a month for his personal consumption. But then he realized that there was potential for a start a honey business. This was when the business idea for Ubusi Honey was born.
With the help and guidance of the old man on the side of the road, he started buying 14KG of raw honey a month. He then purchased packaging materials like bottles and labels, and started bottling, labeling and selling this honey to the public. He started by selling this honey to customers in the township as well as the people he worked with. He then started supplying raw honey to other businesses in the township and in Cape Town. Every so often, he received orders from the Gauteng Province and his home town of Fort Beaufort back in the Eastern Cape . Some of the businesses he supplies in Khayelitsha include Spinach King Restaurant, 4 Roomed Fine Dining, and SIKIS Kofee Kafe.
Msokoli met Sebastian Daniels in March 2019 and together they decided that they had to share this wonderful honey with the world. Over the course of 2019, the two of them managed to sell honey to over 35 coffee shops in Cape Town. Between March 2019 and December 2019, the two of them managed to increase the monthly volumes of honey sold from 25KG a month to over 250KG a month.
The business is growing and Msokoli is has just completed his bee keeping courses and has registered with DAFF (Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) as a beekeeper.