When it comes to the name, Tapi Tapi the first thing that comes to one’s mind is sweetness.
Zimbabwean-South African based business entrepreneur, Dr Tapiwa Guzha made headlines on social media for his unique ice-cream that has traces of the originality of Africanism.
In an interview with Tapiwa Guzha, My Afrika Mag journalist, Tapiwanashe Rubaya (TR) looks at Tapi Tapi’ (TG) brain child’s footsteps when he started his brand and how the challenges of loadshedding have affected his brand.
TR: Tapiwa Guzha thank you for your time, can you tell us about yourself?
TG: My name is Tapiwa Guzha, I am a Zimbabwean born and raised in Harare. I come from Chiweshe. I studied in Zimbabwe for primary and high education. I then relocated to South Africa in Capetown for my Undergraduate to Post graduate degree. I have spent 18 years in Zimbabwe and now its my 19th year in South Africa.
TR: What is the story behind the name of your brand ‘Tapi Tapi’?
TR: I came up with the name ‘Tapi Tapi’ because I always enjoyed the ‘Napitapi Sunjam’ commercial advert which was a popular jingle which was sang by the late legend Oliver Mtukudzi.
Since I was opening a sweet spot, I knew that kutapira will be involved some how, so it made sense to name it ‘Tapi Tapi’ because of the sweet nature of the work that i am doing.
TR: How did the brand came into existance?
TG: In 2018 that was the year the brand was established, just like an ice cream company, i was trying to get people to familiar to home cooked/made ice cream as suppose to bottle ice-creams in retail shops. I wasn’t in making African flavours and I didn’t make any African flavours for almost 8 years of my journey in making ice-cream. However once i started making ice-creams for Tapi Tapi i fully realised that there was was something happening that is when I became was fully committed.
TR: How has your career as a molecular biologist played a major role in your brand?
TG: My scientific background is useful in the context of understanding some of the plants that i work with but also in the context of understanding being a scientist make it easier to follow procedure and process. Cooking is a procedure you must follow steps, being a scientist has helped me when it comes to the way I cook also in my technical point of view, and it has helped me to see ingredients in different context not only as food but as chemical reagents.
TR: With majority of your brands products being Afro-centri, what inspired you to create Afro-centric products?
TG: The place we live in and its also important to reflect the place we live in which is our environment day to day activities what we eat and wear, the music we enjoy and where we are in the world that is where we draw our inspiration from. We are celebrating our own culture, through these ingredients and being product of who we are.
TR: What is your favourite product?
TG: I can’t say I have my favourite product because I am not that person who likes to to pick on which is my favourite product. I enjoy different favours for different reasons some because i like them as they remind me of someone or something.
TR: How has loadshedding affected your brand?
TG: Loadshedding has affected everyone there is no one immune to that in small and big ways and for the most part we are not able to open and sell ice cream, if there is no generator. Now we don’t operate full time. We only operate in irregular hours because of the nature of the situation here.
If it continues like this, then you must think about investing in a generator so you can keep the business working. On a positive side its quite realiable to display the schedule as they usually do they release a schedule, so if you know if you expecting loadshedding in a particular hour you can prepare for it and get on with your life.In that sense we are able to navigate those challenges with a bit more ease, but if we don’t have to navigate them at all it will be much better.
TR: Do you have any plans of establishing other branches outside Capetown or back home?
TG: I dont have any plans of openning different branches, it’s not in my intentions. This was an incubation of an idea, to showcase what can be achieved it wasn’t trying to make like an empire around ice cream for me personally I have no interest in opening other branches. Someone else, can start their own company, it is not always about a new company, they can adopt our local favours and try to celebrate things around them and not only just eurocentric kind of icecream.
TR: What has been the public’s feedback when it comes to your products?
TG: The public’s response has been overwhelmingly, positively and most people appreciate what we have been doing. Even though they won’t be our regular customers, just the respect and believing in what we are doing it’s important.
Yes, in every business they are douting ‘Thomas’. Who are not interested in trying things from our palette that is expected and some people who don’t have that adventurous spirit of trying things. Overall, we have received positive response from the local and international community.