Rena Mkhize

Hansa celebrates ambitious entrepreneur

Rena Mkhize, owner of Gent's Tavern and Hansa Dreamer

Rena Mkhize opened Gent’s Tavern in 1986 when she was just 26 years old. What started with three cases of beer quickly becomes a legitimate business. She currently runs her Jeppestown tavern with the help of five employees. Hansa has recognised Rena’s achievements by sponsoring a TV advert for Gent’s Bar. She tell us about the success of her business and her ambitions.

Tell us a bit about your background and how you started your business…

I was working as a switchboard operator. I went on leave and I decided to sell food and beer. I started with three cases of beer and the business grew very fast, to the extent that I decided to quit my job and focus on my business.

Rena Mkhize opened Gent’s Tavern in 1986 when she was just 26 years old. What started with three cases of beer quickly becomes a legitimate business. She currently runs her Jeppestown tavern.

Are you in business accidentally or is this what you always wanted to do?

It was my dream to be a businesswoman. But I had to get a job where I could earn a few Rands before I started working for myself.

How did you identify the opportunity to open a trendy and upmarket restaurant?

I looked at the needs of people where I’m staying and beer was most in demand.

How are the locals responding?

I think they are satisfied with my service because they are very supportive.

What challenges have you come across since you started running your business?

Some staff members are unreliable: sometimes they steal, they are absent from work or not working to meet my expectation.

What is the secret to your success?

I keep the place clean at all times, and I train my staff how treat customers, to be friendly and respect them. We also have entertainment such as TV, music and pool tables.

What is your strength as an entrepreneur?

To be able to run my business properly and having problem-solving skills.

How far do you want to take your business in the hospitality industry?

I want to go as a far as I can, and as long I’m still alive. 

What do you think is holding back small township businesses from flourishing?

I think some business owners don’t have ambitions and dreams to take their businesses far.

What inspires you everyday?

The support that I get from my customers and my relationship with them – that keeps me going.

How do you market and promote?

We do point-of-sale advertising and organise entertainment for our customers.

What is the most precious entrepreneurial lesson that you have learned?

I learned that is important to have management skills and be able to relate to different customers.

What sets you apart from your competitors?

I respect my customers and I’m friendly to them.

What advice can you give to an upcoming or aspiring entrepreneur?

Have a dream first, network with the relevant people and attend business training programmes to acquire skills on the kind of business you would like to operate.

How best do you think government can regulate the liquor trade and fight alcohol abuse in townships?

By limiting trading hours and enforcing compliance. Make sure that the liquor laws are respected and traders do not sell to people under-age and pregnant women.

What do you think the consequences of banning liquor advertising will be?

There will be no excitement and completion, and this will affect our business.

South Africa’s entrepreneurship is lagging behind when compared to other developing countries. What do you think is the cause for this setback?

It is as a result of the lack of business skills; we don’t take business development seriously in our schools.

What does this recognition by Hansa mean to you?

This is a dream come true for me. I’m empowered and thrilled for being recognised by a relevant company. I’m proud of my achievement.

 How would you like to see yourself as an entrepreneur in the next five years?

 In five years’ time I see myself as a well-known and established woman in the business industry.