Flora Fadzai Sibanda, Chronicle Reporter
THERE was nothing amazing about them. They were not outstanding, they were downright ordinary but that is all changing now. They are on the way to becoming a power couple thanks to a candy floss machine they bought and stored away some time ago.
The candy floss machine proved to be the stone that the builders rejected in the foundation of their marriage and it saved them from would-be poverty when they were on the verge of losing their livelihoods due to Covid-19 in January 2021.
This is the story of Noel Bere and Michelle Tawana Ngangira, a Bulawayo couple who founded a business at a time the coronavirus was raging, forcing the world to go on lockdown.
Bere, a mechanic, was struggling to put food on the table and Michelle, a shop assistant, had to contend with the threat of being laid off as Covid-19 had frozen the profits of the grocery shop where she was employed.
But at a time when marriages were collapsing due Covid-19-related disruptions, infidelity, abuse and job losses, Bere and Michelle’s marriage instead blossomed. Theirs withstood the tests and trials of the flu that was threatening to wipe out the world.
And they have the candy floss machine to thank as they used it to survive. They started making candy floss at their home in Nkulumane suburb and selling to children around the neighbourhood. Their small business became popular in no time.
A few months after they started their business, they bought an industrial machine which made it easy for them to make more candy floss. Two months later they bought an ice cream making machine, chocolate fountain machine and a popcorn making machine. Their business was growing in leaps and bounds.
But they were not satisfied, so they decided to diversify their business by learning how to make chocolates, toffee sweets and ice cream flavours.
In an interview, Michelle said the progress from last year has shocked them.
“We are now a registered company and now looking for a physical shop where we can operate from as we are only operating online at the moment.
“We have been taking lessons on how to make chocolates and toffee sweets from YouTube videos and tutorials. As time went on, we started experimenting with our own flavours and finally we nailed it.
“We now have our own packaging for the ice creams as we make our own flavours that taste differently from the normal flavours that people are familiar with,” she said.
One outstanding thing about Bere and Michelle is their willingness to try new things. They recently added a PA system, jumping castle and a camera to their portfolio to aid in attracting clients wherever and whenever they are hosting their own mini market.
“One thing that markets have taught me is that l should not be selfish. Talking to people helps. We got the idea of adding PA system and the jumping castle from a friend that we met at a market,” she said.
Bere said they decided to call their company Kinoe Candy in honour of his partner Michelle who is nicknamed “Kinoe” because she is the last born in her family.
He said working with his partner has been quite uplifting and it has helped grow and strengthen their relationship.
“We have taught each other a lot of things and patience is one of them. Had we not been patient we would not be here with our business because running a business, be it small or big is not easy and we are now applying the patience even to our relationship,” he said.
Bere said a lot of people discouraged them at first saying running a business as a couple would make it hard and might stop the business from prospering.
He said running a candy business is challenging because making a name that people can easily trust is a bit challenging.
“Because candy is a bit sensitive as it is mostly eaten by children, getting people to trust your products is a challenge. But we are looking forward to a brighter future because we are now legally registered,” he said. — @flora_sibanda