Adventure Institute alumni and adventurer, Catherine Cartwright shares with us her thoughts on being an entrepreneur. She is the founder behind South Africa’s favourite outdoor and adventure food brand, Mama Alles. Find out how she turned her love for hiking and good food into a booming business.
Can you please give us an intro about yourself?
I am an avid hiker and adventurer, living in Cape Town. I have a diverse background, studying anthropology and environmental science, and then city planning. I have worked in many fields including education, spatial justice organisations, film, events and festivals. Food has always been a passion of mine, so combining my love for hiking and passion for good hiking into Mama Alles seemed like a good next move.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Creating employment is arguably the most important thing you can do in our country. While I only employ a few people at this stage, it is what gets me out of bed in the morning. I also love the process of learning how to do everything as I go, with no formal training in business or food, I have to really engage in every part of the process.
Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them?
I have not experienced anything other than a bit of mansplaining and men underestimating how strong I am. I keep having to remind the guys at our suppliers that no one is going to help me carry the 25kg bag of couscous from my car into my kitchen. Yes, I can carry 25kg sacks of grains!
What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?
I wouldn’t say there is a single piece of advice that has stood out. Instead, I am constantly asking questions, meeting with business owners (regardless of the type of business) and learning from each person about their journey. I always come away with at least one golden nugget of information that I can apply to how I do things.
How can we encourage more women to pursue entrepreneurship or leadership roles in their careers?
I think that’s a question that men should ask themselves. We always hear of the women behind the men, it’s about time we start to hear about the men behind the women. Men need to be supporting women as tirelessly as women have supported them in their careers and endeavours.
Is there anyone that inspires you in your career?
Faith Jaji. Faith is my kitchen manager and lead chef. She works tirelessly, is a fast learner, and is a great communicator. She always shows up, she always has energy and everything that I teach her, she finds a better, more efficient way of doing it and then shows me how to do it! She really is the backbone of this business and I am grateful for her every day.