V&A Waterfront food incubator – a taste for success


R63-million investment in Makers Landing has seen talented food entrepreneur’s blossom

A year ago today, the V&A Waterfront opened its Makers Landing food hub with a vision of developing a thriving food community in which small food businesses could prosper and grow.

That vision culminated in a space where local flavour is the hero and food talent is recognised, nurtured, supported and ultimately showcased. In total, Makers Landing represents a R63-million investment with R48-million coming from the V&A Waterfront in partnership with the National Treasury’s Jobs Fund, which invested a further R15-million.

Celebrating the occasion of Makers Landing’s first birthday are the second cohort to have entered the five-month Food Lab Incubator mentorship programme. Even as they graduate, the group of eight has already notched up considerable successes thanks to the programme.

David Green, V&A Waterfront CEO says the V&A is particularly proud of the work that has gone into the incubator programme, which has attracted 16 talented individuals to enrol this year. Speaking about their achievements, Green says the graduates have “already achieved accelerated growth in sales, access to market, production efficiency and brand identity, with several performing well enough to even employ staff.”

One of those who has gone through the programme is Nafeesa Arendse who runs the Wrapper Co. Her business, focused on “reinventing what food wraps can be”, has seen sales increase by over 800% and she is poised to further expand her business by hiring part-time staff in January 2022.

Arendse says, “I am so grateful to be afforded mentorship by professionals that will help me grow as a person while I upscale my business. Makers Landing is all about sharing with one another and we don’t just share food. We share life experiences, we share space, and our knowledge with one another.

“It’s challenging but it’s incredible, and it’s so amazing. And the best part is that you are surrounded daily by people with common goals, which is very important and this will ultimately make it easier for you to reach your end game.”

The very first group of eight graduates have also achieved phenomenal growth in the short space of time since they finished the incubator programme. Three have set up permanent stores, and all six have increased sales from between 200% and 5000%. Their businesses have all expanded into a minimum of two additional routes to market and eight new job have been created along the way.

Lester Adams of Slow and Low, who was among the first to sign up to the Incubator Lab programme says, “The Incubator programme at Makers Landing has been instrumental in developing my business years ahead of what the trial and error of real-world learning accomplishes. The resources and wealth of professional experience at hand is one of the biggest food and business think tanks that exists in South Africa. An invaluable experience and a wonderful community to be part of. ”

Green says, “Maker’s Landing has really surpassed all of our expectations – as a new food destination, as a platform for small food businesses to operate in, and to nurture and envelop emerging food entrepreneurs with skills, experience and knowledge. It is the physical manifestation of our food vision, to create an inspiring example of a just, equitable and sustainable food system, that supports health and wellbeing. Whilst the kitchen incubator is the heart of Makers Landing, and a cornerstone of our food ecosystem, it was important in our visioning to layer the space, in creating a sustainable / tiered Food community.

“Our dream is for our SMMEs to excel to the point where they outgrow Makers Landing and leave to open their own eateries or work elsewhere – in the Waterfront, the city, the country, or even overseas – and their places will be filled by new talent looking for a start in the industry.”

Cohort 2 successes

The second cohort joined the Makers Landing Food Incubator programme in August 2021. As a result of their training, they have already achieved accelerated growth in sales, access to market and production efficiency. Some have even employed staff and they all have new corporate identities and focused, streamlined product ranges.

AMMA’S CREAMERY – Jaynie and Ushir Bhoolia

Cultured cashew butters and ‘cream cheese’ spreads

  • Increased sales by 400%
  • Streamlined production by 300%
  • In conversation with six potential retailers

CHARMING CHEF – Ayesha Juwaley

Profiteroles, bundt cakes, sweetie pies and more

  • Increased sales by 90%
  • Launched cooking classes at Makers Landing as an additional revenue stream


B2B catering – special ability to work with dietary restrictions

  • Streamlined production by 300%
  • In negotiations with student organisations for three catering contracts

KASI KUISINE – Thabisho Sechogela

Elevated African street food

  • Increased sales by 300%
  • Dark kitchen from Makers Landing
  • Employed two temporary staff

MONDVOL SOET – Elmarie Rosochacki

Premium retail sweet treats (nougat, biscotti, and panforte) which showcase local, organic ingredients

  • Increased sales by 300%
  • Redeveloped product range and expanded to Five stores
  • Has developed a big sales strategy for January 2022

SWEET AS PIE – Zanele & Kunal Matikiti

Tarts and sweet pies for events and gifting

  • Streamlined production by 500%
  • Increased sales by 100%
  • Hired one part time staff member
  • Expanded into three markets and launched a wholesale frozen range
  • Have plans to launch an online store

THE WRAPPER CO – Nafeesa Arendse

‘Reinvented’ wraps

  • Landed a daily catering contract to an NGO, pushing the company past the breakeven point
  • Increased sales by 800%
  • Hiring part-time staff in January 2022

WILD YEAST – Ilhaam Ragbeeni

Sourdough products (crackers, cookies, pancakes, giraffe bread etc.)

  • Increased sales by 400%
  • Developed five new routes to market
  • Refined retail range to focus on expansion in January 2022

Interested candidates can visit the Makers Landing website at www.makerslanding.co.za for more information about the Incubator Food Lab programme.