Nyakallo Mokoena is a self-taught barista and coffee roaster who has built a nationally recognised coffee brand called Mcofana.
He started Mcofana in 2015 and decided to resign from his full-time job to invest his time and attention in building the brand. Its first home was at a local shop called Ha Wanda in Zamdela, a township in Sasolburg, South Africa. With only limited resources at his disposal, he used household equipment to prepare his Mcofana coffee.
He drew on his skills as brand developer to create his own brand of coffee that would have a positive impact on people and broaden the thinking of anyone that comes across the brand. The goal was to establish a brand that encouraged people to chase their dreams and live their lives to fullest – with a cup of grind.
At the time Mcofana was only a mobile operation, attending markets and other events. The demand for Mcofana grew and Nyakallo soon opened a shop in the trendy Maboneng Precinct in Johannesburg.
Nyakallo admits that the shop was a bit of a rushed decision, as there wasn’t enough time to properly analyse the viability and there were no funds to sustain the running of the shop.
He describes this period as a very expensive learning curve, which forced him to really focus and look at the Mcofana brand from a different perspective.
He explored different strategies and crafted a business model that would work best for the brand to be able to achieve its vision. Nyakallo says he comes from a community where many believe that great things can only be accomplished by people from certain backgrounds; he has dedicated his life to debunking this negative mindset.
Being the founder of Mcofana has given him the opportunity to share his journey with others and inspire them to live with purpose. As someone who has benefitted from collaborations, Nyakallo advises young people to seek out mentors and expand their networks.
He acknowledges that the continent is currently facing a difficult time with unemployment and the increasing prevalence of drug abuse. He urges young people to take action in developing solutions and to get involved in community development projects and dialogues.
In five years from now, Mcofana coffee will be 10 years old. Nyakallo aims to have created jobs nationally. He hopes that Mcofana will become synonymous with the word “coffee”, and as iconic a brand as Colgate or Coca-Cola.
True to his focus on youth development, Nyakallo is set on developing a community building company that establishes a chain of youth-owned Mcofana coffee bar outlets throughout South Africa, in hospitals, offices and petrol stations.
He entered the 2019 TYI competition because he was inspired by its impact on people and wanted to share his story to inspire other young people to start building their dreams with whatever they have.