A local entrepreneur in Kleinmond with a passion for coffee making and concocting healthy smoothies and juices says hard work and perseverance are central to his successful journey.
Zimbabwean-born William Chiwara (38), who owns Natural Health Coffee Shop and William’s Pizza and Grill, lost his parents at a young age and had to pay his own school fees and work his way up through life.
“After school I moved to Harare, and those were tough economic times,” he related. “I started working at a security company as a guard and faced lots of challenges then.”
Chiwara says it doesn’t matter what he is doing now, but when faced with a difficult situation he thinks back to those times and how they shaped him.
He was always thinking of the next challenge, and it was in 2005 that he also decided to apply for a passport and started entertaining thoughts of coming to work in South Africa.
“I went back to Mutare (my home town), where I started work at a hardware store. I started building myself up in the hardware industry. I was a top seller at the store. The owner of this store trained me to do a lot of stuff and I was actually like the face of the company. I was the highest seller at the hardware shop.”
The owner then started a new carpentry company making coffins, which Chiwara did for three years. “I made high-end coffins, and the last coffin I made sold for $500, which was a lot of money back then.”
Chiwara was in Botswana for a short stint, but soon moved to South Africa and in 2009 he married Florence.
He then started working as a handyman at a local bed-and-breakfast where he worked for three years.
In 2012 his brother, who worked at Cattle Baron in Cape Town, convinced him to move to Cape Town and he made the move with his wife. “I started working at a place called The Brasserie and here I met a man called Theo. He was just starting his coffee roasting business. He was roasting inside the business where I was working, and soon I asked Theo if he can teach me more about coffee and roasting. He showed me what he was doing, and it soon clicked inside my mind and I knew this is something I wanted to do full-time.”
The place Chiwara was working at had an opening for a head barista, but it promoted someone else who had already been a barista. He soon left his job and joined Cattle Baron as a waiter, but had a yearning to get back into brewing coffee. “I moved all my shifts to nights, and in the day I started brewing coffee with Theo in Wynberg, who trained me from scratch. He wanted me to be a super barista.”
Chiwara was earning more at Cattle Baron, but his passion was coffee. After three years, Theo decided to move to Cape Town, but unfortunately Chiwara couldn’t move with them because he needed the salary at Cattle Baron. “He went to Cape Town, and I lasted only a week and a half before I contacted Theo and asked him for help to start my own coffee shop. He said ‘great idea’. He gave me a spare coffee machine, a spare grinder and supplied me with coffee. He then said the first two months I didn’t have to pay any rent for the machines.”
Chiwara then decided to open a coffee shop in the old spot where Theo had had a coffee shop before, and got back customers who had followed Theo to Wynberg.
From 2012 until now he still uses coffee made by Theo.
Forward to 2017 and Chiwara got the opportunity to open his first coffee shop in Kleinmond under the name “Natural Health Coffee Shop” and he opened shop at the industrial area close to the gym.
“We drew a lot of customers from the gym but business was slow and then we got the opportunity to move to our current premises in Main Road in Kleinmond across the OK Minimark.”
He soon built up the reputation for his healthy smoothies and juices in town and he now has regular clients who he knows on a first name basis and he even knows exactly how they like their juices or smoothies.
Chiwara took on a difficult challenge in 2020 about five days before the national lockdown started when he opened William’s Pizza and Grill. “We were open only for five days until we had to close our doors because of the nationwide lockdown. Both my businesses stood still in that time and I had to make a plan. We decided to deliver coffee to clients and later we did the same with the pizzas. Both businesses reinforced each other, and we made it through the rough lockdown.”