This week on African Voices, CNN International reports from Nairobi, Kenya, where it meets two sisters who are looking to promote the continent’s cuisine from their food truck.
The programme speaks to Natalie and Samantha Mwedekeli, the joint-founders of Mama Rocks. Having been originally born in the UK, the sisters explain that their deep connection to African food through their Nigerian mother and Kenyan father was the inspiration behind their business.
African Voices hears how Mama Rocks serves up burgers and dishes that represent different parts of the continent and Natalie Mwedekeli explains why they chose to take their product to the streets of Nairobi: “It’s a merger of Africa and the West kind of together in one product… We decided on a food truck because we wanted to reach as many people as possible to try and get feedback about whether or not this would go down well.”
Having been founded in 2016 and consulted with restaurant owners in the build-up, the food truck concept also proved to be a substantial cost saver for the start-up.
Both sisters gave up their traditional 9 to 5 jobs to take the risk of founding Mama Rocks and have heavily utilised social media as well as their street presence to promote themselves.
Having founded the business to represent the whole of Africa, Samantha explains why they started their journey in the Kenyan capital: “We chose Nairobi because we’ve been traveling to Kenya every year since we were 17 years old, and it felt like a second home to us. It seemed like a natural place to start… We wanted to really create an African brand that represented modern Africa and its potential.”
Two years in, African Voices hears how demand for Mama Rocks’ Kenyan inspired burgers have sky-rocked, leading to the Mwedekeli sisters forming plans for a fully-fledged restaurant after all.
Samantha outlines some of the future goals of the business: “We want everybody to know how great African food is, and it’s been so great that we’re able to package Africa in an un-threatening way… We want to reach as many people as we can globally. That’s our greatest ambition.”
When asked by African Voices what advice she would give to any aspiring businesswomen, Samantha responded: “You might start doing a nine to five job, and then you just keep going because you’ve got to pay the bills. You have to have the courage to stop and say, ‘No. Actually, let me see who I am’, and then ‘What is it that I came here to do?’… I want to inspire people to be in tune with themselves, and before they die, get out of themselves what they came here to do.”
‘African Voices’ is sponsored by Globacom Limited.