Yalla Yalla Boutique Hotel, a four-star rated secure and award-winning hospitality establishment situated in Emalahleni/Witbank, Mpumalanga is flying the South African flag high through its innovative products coupled with strict adherence to Covid-19 guidelines set by the World Health Organization and the South African Tourist Industry Protocols
With a 9.3 rating on booking.com and being regarded as the number one B&B in its area, this boutique hotel which received its four-star rating after only six months of operation offers food and accommodation services to leisure and business travelers from across the world.
More-so, a unique theming concept where hotel rooms represent capital cities of various countries across the world opens doors for Yalla Yalla to possible opportunities of collaboration with countries that also want to promote their image especially to travelers in South Africa.
This Lilizela Award winner for the best four-star establishment in Mpumalanga is a perfect stop-over for travelers on their way to the Kruger Park since it also provides personalized service and accommodates individual requests from guests in order to create memorable experiences.
In order to find out more about the secrets and motivation behind its success, Brian Kazungu, the iniafrica.com news editor had an interview with Yalla Yalla’s Marketing Manager, Blessing Mmola, who shared her journey into the hospitality industry and the vision she has for the hotel and South Africa at large.
Iniafrica news: Would you briefly describe the background and nature of your business?
Blessing Mmola: Yalla Yalla Boutique Hotel is an award-winning 4-star establishment, situated in the quiet upmarket suburb of Die Heuwel in Emalahleni/Witbank. The Name Yalla Yalla means ‘hurry up, let’s go!’.
Yalla Yalla Boutique Hotel offers a world of comfort, style, excellent service, and top-class accommodation to business and leisure travelers from across the globe and it also offers a unique experience of 14 cities under one roof to its clients.
With less than an hour and twenty minutes’ drive from Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport, Yalla Yalla Boutique Hotel is the perfect stop-over for travelers on their way to the Kruger Park and the rest of Mpumalanga.
The safety and health of guests and staff are a priority at Yalla Yalla and we take great pride in maintaining the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene. Strict protocols to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are in place in all departments within the establishment.
On entering the establishment the under-roof swimming pool prepares you to embrace the magic journey you are about to embark on.
At Yalla Yalla Boutique Hotel each room is uniquely themed to represent a different city in the world. Our guests, therefore, don’t need to worry about any travel restrictions or closed borders because they can visit 14 different cities all under one roof!
iniafrica news: What is the main motivation and major push for you to engage in the business that you are involved in?
Blessing Mmola: The core motivation of this business is to empower people since at Yalla Yalla Boutique Hotel we help people to realize what potential lies within them.
We employ people with the right attitude and teach them the skills to create an income for themselves and their families.
Every person employed here is groomed and inspired to love their work and as such, they deliver an excellent service to all the guests who enter the establishment.
Most of the staff who are currently employed at this hotel didn’t have any formal hospitality training and some of the staff members didn’t have an educational background, but they were all trained to be the best they have become.
iniafrica news: What are the different products and services that you are offering? Would you describe what each of these products and services is all about and the intended benefit of each of these to your targeted and actual clients?
Blessing Mmola: Yalla Yalla Boutique Hotel provides accommodation and food to business and leisure travelers. It has 14 rooms of which 3 rooms have self-catering facilities.
There are 2 executive rooms and all the rooms are themed to represent a different city of the world and most of the rooms have a private entrance and a patio with outside furniture.
Every room at Yalla Yalla is cleaned and disinfected daily in line with the Covid-19 Health and Safety Protocols.
More-so, all the rooms have a bar fridge, coffee station, DSTV, Free Wi-Fi, fan, electric blanket, shower, bathroom essentials, wardrobes and a safe.
Security: CCTV cameras and armed response as well as a free and safe, off-street, covered parking behind electronic security gates
Backup Supplies: Back-up, filtered, water supply system and Generator supported electricity
Food: On-site chef, Lunch packs available at extra cost
Entertainment: Two dining areas, both equipped with big screen TVs and DStv.
Hygiene and Health Regulations: Set-up in both dining areas are in line with the social distancing guidelines of the World Health Organization and the South African Accommodation and Restaurant Protocols, plus laundry services at extra cost
Indoor Facilities: Indoor swimming pool and In-room dining
iniafrica news: How has the market responded to your products and services so far since inception and what can you attribute to such kind of a response?
Blessing Mmola: The establishment has a rating of 9.3 on booking.com and we have received different awards for excellence in service. Our Facebook page could be viewed for more personal feedback from guests.
iniafrica news: What is it that is unique about yourself, your team and your services which sets you apart and which also helps you to stand out among various service providers who are in the same category with you.
Blessing Mmola: Absolute focus on excellence in all the services provided. This is our best marketing tool.
iniafrica news: What do you believe and understand are the main advantages to your clients when they indulge in your products and services?
Blessing Mmola: Our clients experience the luxury of a hotel, and because we are a Boutique Hotel, we are also able to provide personalized service and we can accommodate individual requests from guests.
At Yalla Yalla, Health and Safety risks are at their barest minimum because we accommodate a smaller number of people and all our staff are compliant with the set Health and Safety Protocols. We managed to achieve this health score at a time when compliance is still a big challenge for some players in the hospitality industry.
Because of Covid-19, we encourage minimal physical contact and there is even an on-line registration form that our guests need to complete before they check-in. All the guests must dto do an on-line risk assessment which is endorsed by the National Department of Health before they enter the establishment.
On top of that, we also do weekly risk assessments for all the staff members and we have a detailed risk management document to indicate how the spread of Covid-19 is managed in every department.
iniafrica news: Do you have any background in this industry? If yes, could that have helped you in identifying the business opportunities behind your entrepreneurial drive? If no, what is that help you to identify and go for this business opportunity?
Blessing Mmola: The initial idea of the owner was to buy a property, renovate it and rent it out to a big company and receive a passive income. As the project developed, the business idea of creating a guest house started.
With no hospitality industry background, it seemed like an easy thing to do, but what a shock and what a learning curve it became?
iniafrica news: What can you look back at and say that, so far, this has been your major achievements as an enterprise and what do you believe has greatly contributed towards such achievements?
Blessing Mmola: The establishment received 4- star grading after only 6 months in business. It won the Lilizela Award for the best 4-star establishment in Mpumalanga a year later and several other national and international awards.
The fact that this business was started by an owner no hospitality background created the space to be very creative. Personal conversations with guests about their needs helped us to create products that are focused on the real needs of a traveler and this also enables us to continually offer services that are client centric.
iniafrica news: It is a fact that the current economic situation globally especially in this industry is challenging. As such, what is it that has helped you as a business to continue operating under some difficult conditions that you have encountered?
Blessing Mmola: Yalla Yalla was registered as an essential service provider just before lockdown.
The establishment was therefore forced to develop and implement health and safety protocols very fast, especially because we provided accommodation to doctors, nurses and other health care service providers.
Staff had to do online training endorsed by the World Health Organization about the Covid- 19 virus.
While the rest of the industry was still wondering what needs to happen we were already in a position to implement the developed protocols. All processes and procedures changed and a new way of doing business was created.
The focus was not on the chaos all around us, it was on opportunities and creating ways to manage and cope within the pandemic.
iniafrica news: What are and what has have been some of the operational challenges that you have encountered so far in the pursuit of your entrepreneurship vision and how have you dribbled past them?
Blessing Mmola: The founder mentioned that although she has 3 degrees, nothing prepared her for the challenges a business owner has to face. In big companies you have someone to manage HR, marketing, finances etc. but as a business owner you need to do everything. Managing cash flow and understanding some basic accounting principles was a big challenge but business coaching saved this establishment.
iniafrica news: Based on your experience, what advice can you give to unemployed youths and many other job seekers concerning entrepreneurship as a way of creating employment for themselves and others?
Blessing Mmola: Never give up. Empower yourself. Never run out of plans. Be committed. See every failure as an opportunity to learn. Dream big and work hard to reach your goals.
iniafrica news: What are the current challenges happening in your industry or country which is affecting the viability of your business? In that regard, what are the strategies that you are putting in place for you to achieve your goals?
Blessing Mmola: The big challenge is the fact that a lot of people still don’t travel. This then translates to low occupancy levels and less money coming in, thus putting you in a position where you may not be able to cover the running costs of the business.
In response to that, our strategy is to cut on running costs and to focus on marketing in order to get higher levels of occupancy.
iniafrica news: Where do you foresee your business in the future and what legacy do you want it to leave on earth? Why do you have such convictions?
Blessing Mmola: We would love to be part of the transformation process in the country.
The previous year, 51 black youths were trained in this small establishment and through that, we at Yalla Yalla Boutique Hotel have met the greatest trainees. To us it was such an honor to work with them, to see them develop and to listen to their stories that are filled with courage, hope and dreams.
I felt very special when the founder mentioned to me that it would be a blessing to her if someone empowers someone like me to buy her business. She thinks it would be amazing if a black lady could be the business owner of this establishment. To her it is important that a person with the same mindset, passion and love for the development of people take over the business. Her personal reward would be that she empowered someone to reach their dream and take what she created and make it bigger and better. This product is her baby and it would make her very proud when she sees it evolving into successful adulthood.
The questions in this interview are adapted from the book, The SME HANDBOOK written by Brian Kazungu.
Five (5) Important Types of Capital That You Must Have As an Entrepreneur
Munyaradzi Chikomba, 27/03/2021
Many people across the world definitely want to venture into business but the biggest challenge which is stopping them from starting their own enterprises is lack of capital.
It is because that reason that I want to highlight that Start-up Capital does not only mean liquid capital or money.
Yes indeed, you may not possess cash at the moment and yet you may have the following forms of capital which you can actually use to advance your entrepreneurial ambitions.
Relational/Social capital – A relation is defined as the way in which two or more people, groups, and countries, talk to, behave toward, and deal with each other.
In life, you talk to many people and as a business person, you should learn to establish strategic business relationships which will eventually help you in the near future. You should strive to establish, nature and cultivate good relations so that you can in turn also benefit from them.
Good business relations have the capacity to advance your life for the better.
If you borrow money for no interest or ask for a favor from a colleague without paying for it, you would have actually used what is called social capital.
Social capital can also link you to new customers and give you more visibility without incurring serious advertising costs. In business, good relationships are very important, because without them, you will quickly go out of business.
Intellectual capital – Intellect is defined as the capacity for rational or intelligent thought especially when highly developed.
You must always understand that information or knowledge is power and as such, if you can use information to advance your ventures, it will bring you a great return on investment. You actually trade in the knowledge that you have in exchange for liquid capital.
For example, if you are very knowledgeable in a certain field, you can decide to offer tutorials or consultancy in that regard and people will give you money (liquid capital).
Intellectual capital can also save you money especially when it comes to doing some things on your own instead of paying someone to do it on your behalf.
When you lack information, you may end up paying for things that can be possibly be done for free like online applications or submissions for certain documents which other peopl can charge you if you ask them to do it for you.
Skills capital – A skill is a learned power or dexterity of doing something competently: a developed aptitude or ability.
There are those things which you are able to do with utmost easy and yet they have a monetary value.
You may be so good at doing these things to such an extent that it is almost impossible for people to forget you. Such an ability on its own is a form of capital which you exchange for money. It is therefore very important for you to develop your skills.
If you can design fliers on your own, you will not pay for that service and hence you would have saved a few dollars. Your skills capital can save you some money which you can then use for other more important things in your business.
Emotional capital – An emotion is a conscious mental reaction (such as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body.
Your ability to face what life throws at you is part of your capital because remember an emotionally unstable individual can’t make sound decisions and yet business is all about making sound and profitable decisions daily.
Emotional capital is very important because it defines and determines the effectiveness of every other type of capital mentioned above.
Management of emotions is a fundamental aspect in business because if you can’t manage your emotions, you will make irrational decisions which are detrimental to your company and thus negatively affecting all the other forms of capital.
People who are familiar with stocks (shares) and investments will tell you that good management of your emotions is very important since it enables you to make sound decisions.
Spiritual capital– The word spirit is defined as a force within a person that is believed to give the body life, energy, and power.
Spirituality in simple terms is knowing oneself deeply and relating it to your daily routine and calls.
This type of capital calls for you to invest in your inner being so that you can be in sync with your creator or beliefs despite your faith.
Spiritual capital is beyond religion because you can be very spiritual but not inclined to any religion. Spiritual capital is very important because it makes you to believe even when there is no or little hope and it keeps you going even in dire situations.
Yes, business may not be anchored on spiritual beliefs since its runs on the laws of commerce but you must understand that businesses are run by people who are subject to spiritual realities.
If you take some time to study the lives of some leading business people around the world, you discover that they have a certain level of spirituality which influences their decisions.
Definitions in this article are taken from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
Munyaradzi Zindi Chikomba (The Social Architect) is a Co-founder & Executive Chairperson of Shanduko Foundation. He is a content creator and serial columnist who writes articles on social commentary and social affairs. He is passionate about building and shaping society through digital advocacy and media. He is an Editor In Chief at Peach Media Trust.
Mutumwa Mawere’s Book, When Minds Meet: A Fascinating Binocular on the Tragic Reality of Africa
Brian Kazungu, 27/03/2021
In a poetry anthology titled General Emeritus – Wisdom, Mysteries and Dark Sayings, there is poem called The Bewitched Continent with a statement which says “This is a bewitched continent, its own people by its own people are made to be poor.”
In the preface of the book, he writes “Africa after 56 years of independence has not been able to efficiently and effectively address the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. The lingering question is whether the faulty lines lie at the individual, corporate or state level, or fundamentally, Africans are a cursed people”.
Using his personal encounters, from the first chapter, we see how he established a business empire spanning the SADC region and beyond with an employment of at least 20 000 people and a US$400 million income on the backdrop of a decorated academic and professional background.
When Minds Meet is an interesting and mind engaging literature by an academic of note whose educational adventures spanned across Zimbabwe, Swaziland, the UK and USA doing different studies including but not limited to Actuarial Sciences, Economics, Business Management as well as Finance and Investments.
According to Mawere, this book is a collection of articles that he wrote for various news publishers on issues that need to form part of the conversations among Africans on critical issues that must be considered if the continent is to deliver on the promise of a better life to its citizens.
In the rest of the book, especially based on his personal experiences in the corporate world including a stint at the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, he addresses a number of issues that needs attention if Africa is to rise up the global economic ladder.
While writing about the often abused notion of State Enterprises in Africa, Mawere questions the essence and merits of allowing the State to run businesses and yet it is already the ultimate revenue generator in any country through taxes contributed by its natural and artificial persons.
“The history of nationalization and its impact on efficiency and productivity has to be part of the body of knowledge that citizens must possess before blindly embracing approaches to nation building that have often proved to produce misery, brain drain and general welfare losses”. He explains.
He also brings to light the scourge of inequality which is still rife in the continent despite Africa having attained political independence many decades ago.
With reference to Zimbabwe, Mawere says “As we near the 31st birthday of Zimbabwe, we are compelled to take stock of the distance travelled, successes and failures scored in reducing the inherited gap between rich and poor and more significantly, what could have been done differently in order to deliver on the promise of independence in an efficient, inclusive, just and equitable manner.”
Even though much of the examples that he used relates to Zimbabwe, it is a fact that there is a disturbing uniform approach in the modus operandi of primitive administrative systems in much of the African countries.
For example, even though a country may have many selfless people who are working very hard to positively transform their communities especially from an economic angle, much of the limelight goes only to political actors even though much of them are less effective at their work.
A case in point is the mistreatment by political actors which is given to business players, religious leaders and artists such as musicians in the African continent when they do not conform to the unpalatable whims of some unscrupulous politicians.
Mawere touches on this subject by saying “When one looks at the newly emerging nations, it is instructive that they all have their own indigenous warriors (business role models).
For example, in the case of South Korea, we now know that the warriors are Samsung, Hyundai, LG Electronics and many others. In the case of India, the generals are known.
However, in the case of Zimbabwe, any would-be general (business role model) is targeted, specified, ridiculed and over-harassed in a manner that exposes the hypocrisy and not the sincerity of the thrust.
In a book titled Primitive Politics and The poverty Machinery, politics was referred to as having to do with the administration of societal affairs towards enhancing interpersonal interaction for people’s peaceable co-existence in progressively adapting to the dictates of nature.
It further says that politics in general entails the creation, provision, maintenance, development and promotion of a conducive environment for a harmonious and progressive interaction of humanity in a given territory.
The same book also described Primitive Politics as the adoption of archaic and irrelevant approaches and mechanisms in the administration of human affairs in a contemporary society.
When you look at the above definitions, you will then realize the justification and nobility of Mawere’s call for minds to meet in creating a better world for all since when there is lack of a shared understanding on what matters the most, chaos and even poverty ensues.
It is an undeniable fact that most of the governments in Africa are sustained by fostering divisions amongst the citizenry especially by making it difficult for minds to meet and collectively address the pressing concerns in various communities.
Under the Chapter titled The Powerful Minority, Mawere writes that “The powerful vocal minority has dominated the State to the extent that citizens, contrary to the provisions of the Constitution, feel helpless in reclaiming their sovereignty over matters of the State.”
It is even self-evident that in the African continent, there is rampant and despicable weaponisation of religions, labor movements, ethnicities, races and many other societal groupings in order to stifle unity and corporation which mostly threatens the status quo especially in the corridors of political power.
Mawere’s book which is made of up of 71 mini chapters and 436 pages, is indeed a thick volume but it’s quite an engaging, informative and enlightening piece of literature for anybody interested in knowing why Africa hasn’t made significant progress many decades after its independence.
It is also an invaluable resource for entrepreneurs, government actors, policy makers, donors and all those who seek to understand this continent and the world better.
Some of the chapters in this read-worthy book include, Justice and Fairness, State vs People, Poverty Fight, Government and Business, Nationalization, Inequality as well as Powerful Minority and Property Rights.
The book can be found on Amazon on the following link: https://amzn.to/3tX5VIp
Book review done by Brian Kazungu, an Author, Media Practitioner and a Technology Enthusiast: https://www.amazon.com/author/briankazungu
Over R100 000 Worth Of Menstrual Cups Donated To Women At Nelspruit Correctional Services and Many Other Centers In Mpumalanga, South Africa
Brian Kazungu, 26/02/2021
Over R100 000 worth of menstrual cups were recently donated to women at Nelspruit Correctional Services and many other centers in Mpumalanga, South Africa.
Women from Nelspruit Correctional Services, Masoyi Home Based Care, Hlaisane Centre, Kanyisa Mahlentabeni Home Based Care and Cyril Clark High School benefited from this event which was held at Nelspruit Correctional Services.
The noble charity event which was organized by Blessing M Holdings and Nody Brand was also made successful by the participation of regular community benefactors such as Oasis Water and many other community development centric corporates such as Fourie Digital, Miniteman Press, Sheppard Boutique and GRB Solutions.
Nody Menstrual Cups are re-usable, soft, hypoallergenic silicone cups that collects menstrual flow and it can last for up ten (10) years. These cups are an effective and durable substitute for the normal sanitary towel.
Nody Brand said that their menstrual cups do not contain latex, BPA or any other creepy additives as compared to tampons which contain bleached rayon and other unhealthy chemicals.
According to Healthline, a medical publication, menstrual cups are not associated with toxic shock syndrome as is with the case with tampons and they don’t need to be regularly changed because of their reusability.
Blessing M Holdings CEO, Blessing Mmola described the event as both emotional and exciting considering the opportunity given them to engage with all the female prisoners during the presentation and demonstration on the use of this exciting hygienic product.
She appealed to many other businesses and individuals in Mpumalanga for partnership on different charitable community projects that improves the lives and dignity of people in the province.
“As a brand which is passionate about breaking walls between business owners, their customers and the community, our doors are always open to work hand in hand to achieve one goal.” Said Blessing.
She further expressed gratitude to the Area commissioner of Barberton Correctional Services Mr Mid Jonn Mhlongo as well as to the Acting Head and all the Management from Nelspruit Correctional Services for making the event a successful reality.
The donation of menstrual cups comes after another related event organized Blessing M Holdings and eMpumalanga TV which brought together a number of the province’s enterprising well-wishers towards the distribution of sanitary towels to disadvantaged schools in Mbombela.
Local businesses and civic organizations which participated in that event include Oasis Nelspruit, Chil Pepper Boutique Hotel, Bundu Lodge, Lamilage Cosmetics, The Ark of Nation, Breakfast with Prisca, Lam Brand, Sibane Selitsembe Youth Organisation, GRB Solutions & Projects.
Such exercises are also in line with the Government’s Sanitary Dignity Program which is a response to the high risk of many girls especially from poor backgrounds missing school due to the failure to manage their menstrual cycle hygienically.
According to the Sanitary Dignity Policy Framework, no girl child must miss school due to the lack of sanitary dignity products that helps them to manage a natural biological process.
For more information regarding Nody Products or partnerships, call 0647701409.
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