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Khanya Mncwabe

Eco-Friendly Business

Khanya Mncwabe, the co-founder and CEO of Matawi, sets out the links between running an environmentally friendly business, being profitable and achieving social impact.

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Khanya Mncwabe is the co-founder and CEO of Matawi, a 100% black woman-owned and managed alcoholic honey beverage company that makes a social and environmental difference. Matawi, which means ‘branches’ in Swahili, aims to honour the African traditions of celebration by creating alcoholic beverages that require far less water to produce than wine and spirits. In addition to its environmental mission, Matawi strives for social impact by sourcing its raw materials from African beekeepers/honey suppliers, and small producers of fruits, herbs, teas and botanicals, particularly rural women and young people.

Prior to founding Matawi, Khanya was a human rights and development practitioner. In a wide variety of research, advocacy and policy development roles at national, regional and continental levels in Africa, she has developed the passion, skills and networks that Matawi now benefits from.


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About This Recipe


For South Africans, climate change is no longer a theoretical concept. Between floods and catastrophic droughts we are experiencing the reality of it. Having lived through the 2018 drought in the Western Cape, Khanya Mncwabe co-founded a business whose main aim is to conserve water.

Here she makes a case for giving marginalised communities a voice in the policies that are so sorely and urgently needed, while highlighting the opportunities inherent in climate change.

Khanya also gives a fascinating insight into how her human rights and development background enabled her to get investors interested in her business. And she reveals which company she regards as an environmental-impact rockstar.

What You'll Learn


Khanya’s advice for entrepreneurs who want to contribute to environmental solutions, is to build a model with their skills and experiences at its core. This will help give you the confidence you will need to succeed.

The recipe shows that skills acquired in one arena, such as human rights advocacy, can be applied in a commercial venture. Khanya’s experience in writing grant proposals, for instance, enabled her to take a programmatic approach to secure partners for different aspects of her business.

Khaya’s passion for African traditions is a cornerstone of Matawi’s brand story, and she shares how that guides and inspires the team she has assembled.


Learn from someone who speaks from a position of real authority, perspective and experience.


Implement practical tips and techniques learned in the trenches - doing, rather than talking.


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This entrepreneurial micro-course will take you only a few minutes per day (or you can binge if you want to). Feel free to skip around and please let us know what you think. 

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