WAKANDA BRINGS KASI FOOD TO THE HEART OF SANDTON

Miles Kubheka offers an ingenious foot in the door to inspired young foodies facing barriers to entry.

Having grown a legendary Soweto eaterie and brand from the ground up, entrepreneur Miles Khubheka has now invested his eight years’ experience into a food business accelerator. One which guides and advances small and medium size food-preneurs into a sustainable future.

A systems engineer by profession, there’s no doubt Miles misses his time flying around the world while working on amazing tech, but he’s found his calling in supporting startups. 

Miles Khubheka, Founder of Wakanda Food Accelerator and Gcwalisa

“I saw this advert one day of this character Vuyo who was selling boerewors rolls on the side of the road. I wondered if it was based on a true story and if this Vuyo guy actually existed, so I Googled it. He didn’t. I trademarked it and, as they say, the rest was history,” shares Miles.

In 2006/2017, Miles sold the business and semi-retired, but has since gone on to found Gcwalisa and Wakanda Food Accelerator

“What we do [at Wakanda] is find amazing food creatives, so people who are starting their journey in the food space, and essentially help them grow and scale to take them to the next level,” explains the entrepreneur. 

The programme also provides shared state-of-the-art kitchen space in Sandton. At heart, the dishes produced here are everyday, soul food heroes which working people relate to.

We found out more about the programme from Lehlohonolo Vilakazi, Chief Culinary Architect at Mama’s Boys.

“What I’ve learned from Miles through this process, is to be consistent and we found this to be the perfect opportunity to change the South African food landscape, one bite at a time,” comments Lehlohonolo.  

“We are all, at the end of the day, interconnected. Our growth is the next person’s growth, and it’s sort of like a pay-it-forward… Because of that, I think it’s incredibly important to help people grow, and get better and do better at what they do as well,” shares Sibusiso Twala, Co-founder of 2 Slai.

The co-founders of 2 Slai

Miles believes firmly that a rising tide lifts all boats and to him, the programme’s impact is clear.

“Food is the one thing that can bring different people from different races and cultures together. It becomes a community builder. It becomes more than just about food, it’s friends. That’s what inspires me; that’s what keeps I guess all of us doing what we do,” states Miles.   

The driving force for this business dynamo is his son, who teaches him humility and the need to leave the world a better place than he found it.

We accompanied the two on a bonding experience though Soweto, the location of one of Miles’s first restaurants, with TukTuk tour guide Philly Mapela from Lebo’s backpackers. A fitting location for youth month which quickly saw them re-connecting with the heartbeat of the township and the rich history. 

“In imparting knowledge to my son, being here on Vilakazi Street, is an important one. A lot of people died for this country’s liberation. It’s so easy to forget how far we’ve come. But more importantly it’s up to him [son Khanya Khubheka] to architect a future. The point is, don’t be a passenger. Go out, change the world, stand for something and be somebody. It’s a lot of pressure, but others did it before you so you owe them that much at least,” comments the father. 

This important street is just down the road from uTata Madiba’s house was where Miles ran his restaurant.

“I’ve learned a number of important lessons when starting a business. Number one is start. A lot of people think about it, dream about it, but they don’t actually execute. Often they wait for it to be perfect, but the truth is just start with the minimum viable product. Just start.”

Miles got his business talent from his mother Beatrice Kubheka and he is proud to be in a position to now teach her, this time with smart banking solutions.

“We’ve used a lot of QR codes and Pay Me type solutions. Of course, the Capitec one works great because most consumers have it. The cool part is that it just quickly integrates into the bank account so the money is there instantaneously,” shares Miles. 

He’s a believer that the bank he chooses is vital for his personal growth, as well as his business growth. Convenience and access are two things he relies heavily on for his bank and he personally likes the two to be one in the same, because it’s easy to then interface between the two.  

“The remote onboarding process is important. I think a lot of people have family living in different areas and rural areas so the ability to sign up your mom from wherever she is, is paramount.” 

Beatrice has always believed in abundance. She understood that returns are not guaranteed but also that working extra hard never hurt your prospects.

“Important values to instil in Miles while he was growing up and going into his business, was that he must strive for the best. That he must ask – “is this the best I could be?” “Could I do it any better?”. Nothing just comes easily. You work for it. You earn it,” comments his mom.  

“I’m sincerely enjoying watching other people’s dreams come true. Once you start working with other entrepreneurs and watching them with their passion and purpose, you realise that there’s more of us out there, and the trick is how do we make even more so that we can push this country forwards.”   

Succeeding, and then committing yourself to getting others well on the way to their success – that’s a life lived to the fullest and one we thoroughly enjoy unpacking with Miles Kubheka.  

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