Mozambique may be experiencing its fair share of economic challenges right now, but that has not detracted the pioneering entrepreneur Ursula Pais of KA DA TERRA SUPERMERCADOS, LDA, from seizing the opportunity to grow.
LoA had the pleasure of meeting this high impact entrepreneur this month in Maputo to find out more about her approach to business and her vision for the future.
What does your company do?
My company is involved in Food Retail Services, through SPAR branded stores, owned and managed by KA DA TERRA Group.
"In developing a next generation in-store experience, we believe ourselves to be at the forefront of a new wave in the Mozambican retail sector."
What inspired you to start your company?
A family owned business that sprang from KaDaTerra, Lda, (originally a food processing industry & distribution - that produced classic staples like matapa, processed coconut and nuts serving local “mercearias, talhos”. Later, it evolved into a catering business that served food daily at the American School canteen for 400-500 people daily, as well as to local functions via cocktail parties and weddings). KaDaTerra Supermercados, Lda was specifically created to launch and manage Mozambique’s first SPAR branded supermarket, as the market got saturated and we were no longer able to place our produce in-stores, as store owners had copied our idea. We opened KA DA TERRA MATOLA, the First SPAR Store in Mozambique, in 2009 and in 2012 we opened our 2nd store SPAR KA DA TERRA INTERFRANCA.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
We are passionate about our service. We bridged the gap – where Mozambicans would previously have travelled to South Africa to buy their groceries. We brought an elevated standard of retail servicing in Matola (700 thousand inhabitants) and Maputo (1,5 million inhabitants). In developing a next generation in-store experience, we believe ourselves to be at the forefront of a new wave in the Mozambican retail sector. The competition we brought to the existing corporate operations saw a rise in the standards of customer service, with the variety and quality of product offering
"The consumer has been at the heart of our story during the last 10 years. However, our staff have been integral to our success, thus we continue to invest heavily in this resource."
Tell us a little about your team
The consumer has been at the heart of our story during the last 10 years. However, our staff have been integral to our success, thus we continue to invest heavily in this resource. Currently, KaDaTerra directly employs 204 people and indirectly employs 40 people, via its suppliers. During our company’s existence, KaDaTerra has trained over 350 people and promoted 45 women to senior positions. Upon Opening The Caniço Store, KaDaTerra will directly employ a further 75 people and indirectly employ a further 12 people, via suppliers. KaDaTerra is committed to ensuring 50% of all roles open are awarded to women, notably based on merit.
Training has been at an annual cost averaging around 1.25 million Meticais - we see this as providing not only for the individual, but also their immediate family. Our staff undergoes continuous training, whether that be in-house, (Maputo), at the Regional Centre (Nelspruit) or at the SPAR Academy, (Durban). A total of 10 senior staff members have undergone training at the SPAR Academy and a further 28 have progressed via training at the SPAR regional centre, and 60 did on the job training in Malelane and Kruger SPAR stores, in Mpumalanga. Additionally, we recently put all our supervisors, department heads and management through a Leadership Development Course and a Supervisory Development Course at considerable time and cost. Both 6 month intensive courses, with specialists commuting to Mozambique from South Africa, and staff development both professionally and personally, really made the experience worth while.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
As chief co-founder of KDTS & Canico Shopping, I am the Group´s Spar Retail Main Member within the Guild, excelling in the roles of Board Director & Administrator. Since graduating from Rhodes University in 2001, I spent 8 years as a legal advisor in commercial/private law/investment/land/and real estate, covering all facets of advice to the business sector. Additionally, I enjoyed 8 fruitful years with UNICEF working as a Child Protection Specialist, supporting jointly with partners the development of the Legal Framework for Children´s Act, Juvenile Justice and championed Alternative Care in Mozambique. We established linkages between the Justice Sector, Attorney General, Ministry of Women and Social Action, Police and 155 residential care centres, with mapping done, and putting a regulatory framework in place for residential care centres, (orphanages) and for alternative care. Today, I now employ my skills and knowledge to develop the Ka da Terra HR, Code of Conduct, and companies policy, including daily co-management of our stores operations, and the SPAR GUILD, together with the team herein, for the past 12 years.
"We will consistently maintain our core values, while offering our consumers personalized in-store service and a wide variety of fresh quality produce at an unparalleled price point."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
In June 2018, our SPAR Ka Da Terra Caniço store will open, the group’s third store, (1,700 sqm and bringing the number of employees up to 280 people). Post CANIÇO store official opening, this will represent a period of consolidation for the group as we take stock of the current economic downturn and implement our recession proof retailing model. This will prepare us to weather the toughest economic crisis. Through our three store consolidated operations, we aim to achieve economies of scale, tap into greater purchasing power with suppliers, thus strengthening Ka Da Terra’s market position. We will continue our investment and improvement of our team in the firm belief that the most valuable resource of any business is its people. So we strongly invest in our staff and importantly, have provided a sound platform for aspirational women in the work place. Concomitantly, via our Caniço Shopping property developer vehicle, once consolidated, we will strive to diversify and find new and exciting locations that are ideal for the expansion of the Caniço brand and Ka Da Terra. We will consistently maintain our core values, while offering our consumers personalized in-store service and a wide variety of fresh quality produce at an unparalleled price point.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
Our Passion for our brand KA DA TERRA! Passion is how we make people feel,
and for KA DA TERRA SPAR, ‘Living the Passion’ must result in a culture of making people feel good.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Your brand must nurture a unique strength … a healthy culture based on your company Values. You must include the value of Entrepreneurship. What does this mean? Creativity and innovation, must be at the core of your business. Problem solving, taking ownership, and responsibility for outcomes – as we tackle current crisis, we need to have solutions. Visionary leadership and the ability to take calculated risks. And long term focus versus short term gain. Above all, manage your balance sheet, control costs, and be flexible in your thinking, and try to anticipate changes.
Contact or follow KA DA TERRA
Why LoA loves it….
The world of retail business can be challenging and rewarding at the same time, and it is not a business sector for the faint hearted. Yet Mozambican entrepreneur, Ursula Pais, is proving that with a big vision, an unending source of energy, and sheer determination, it is possible to build a game-changing retail empire to be reckoned with. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and ceo of Lionesses of Africa