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By Bonginkosi Tiwane

Digital Journalist

Lebogang Mooka uses festive season’s busyness to sell her award-winning rum

Mook Rum was the highest scoring rum from South Africa at the London Spirits Competition, winning a Silver medal award.

The festive season might be the time to relax for ordinary people, but for entrepreneurs and such, this is the busiest and most opportune time for them to make inroads in their business.

Lebogang Mooka, founder of rum brand MOOKA Rum, told The Citizen that this period of the year is the best time to sell her rum.

“This is the best time for business. I have been busy with In-Store Tastings in all the Norman Goodfellows stores around Gauteng. The demand is high during the festivities, this is my busiest time of the year,” Mooka told The Citizen.

Mooka Rum was the highest scoring rum from South Africa at the London Spirits Competition, winning a Silver medal award.

The London Spirits Competition looks to recognise, reward, and help promote spirits brands that have successfully been created to identify with and target a specific spirits drinker. The 36 year-old Mooka said she entered the competition to earn credibility for her brand.

“I did some research and found that there are annual spirits awards taking place all around the world. I entered the London Spirits Competition by completing an application form, paid the registration fee and shipped few bottles to London where they conducted blind tasting with judges throughout the world.”

The competition took place in April this year.

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Back story

Mooka began working on the rum concept in 2020 during lockdown but only launched it in August 2022.

“Doing rum is my first attempt at business. I have been working in corporate for the past for 15 years, [I] only realised my leadership capabilities few years ago,” said Mooka.

“Through achieving accolades and being able to lead successful teams, I realised that I have the ability to create and run my own business.”

Mooka initially wanted to go with gin but noticed that the spirit had a rapid growth in the market and everyone was doing it.

“I then thought of a product that has potential to become big which was rum,” Mooka says. Like any shrewd entrepreneur, she studied the market and saw a gap in rum producers.

The product. Photo supplied.

“It was a risk but an extremely great opportunity for me to introduce something that is ‘not so popular’. A lot of people do not know what rum is so I challenged myself to tab into that market, share knowledge of the product and sell a quality craft barrel-aged spirit.”

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The Pretoria born and bred businesswoman says some of her biggest challenges have been getting her product into retail stores.

“Most of them say that they do not have shelve spaces and some are saying they only stock well-known brands only. This is something that the industry needs to work hard on to make sure we make space and give new businesses an opportunity to be in this industry.”

Her product is currently available at Makro Online, Norman Goodfellows stores in all the Gauteng stores and online. MOOKA Rum is also available at Earthbound Distillery In-store and online as well. Getting space in retail is one of her biggest challenges she says.

“I am told that they are not adding new products to their stores which is limiting my product’s accessibility.”

The name of her brand is her surname. “It is a Setswana word that means ‘healer’. I chose to use my surname to pay homage to those who came before me. And also I also wanted to have a product with an African name or brand.”

With her business less than three years old, Mooka said she’s looking to build a team for the upcoming year as she still operates the business by herself.

“I would like to see MOOKA Rum in most of the household liquor stores across the country. And I would also like to supply my product outside our South Africa borders.”

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