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Young Entrepreneur Taps Into A Niche Market
Young Entrepreneur Taps Into A Niche Market
People who often visit craft markets and farm stalls in the Northern and Western Cape, may already be familiar with Oom Plaas products. These include flavoured salt, jam, rusks, biscuits, dried fruit, biltong, droëwors and olive products.
Koos Du Pisanie

What started as a school project has developed into a fully-fledged, profitable niche business for the industrious Marje Smit, a 20-year-old farm girl from the farm Kokerskolk between Vosburg and Carnarvon.

Marje, who was home-schooled with her two brothers, says she took Business Studies as a subject in Grade 10 and Oom Plaas products started as an assignment to develop a product. As she comes from a family that loves cooking and experimenting with herbs, she decided it was the perfect opportunity to use salt from the Karoo pans to make flavored salt that she could later distribute to friends and family as Christmas gifts.

Developing the products

To make her idea work, she needed grinder bottles. As she is a Protea tent pegging rider and often competes in competitions in Cape Town and the surrounding area, her father, Martin, used their next trip to buy bottles. Instead of buying ten bottles, he bought 100 and encouraged Marje to see if her product would sell.

She says that the idea of flavored salt came to her in the early years of the Karoo Lamb project when many people were passionate about the meat. Because the family lives in the Karoo Lamb region, her father regularly sold meat and saw his daughter’s flavored salt as a good marketing strategy. “My dad received a lot of meat orders and we decided to put a bottle of salt in every pack of meat,” she says.

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November 2019