UKAMA KITCHEN INCUBATOR, the first kitchen incubator of its kind in South Africa aims to cultivate and support low-income home-food businesses by providing a commercial kitchen space, industry-specific technical assistance, training, packaging and access to market opportunities. Whist our primary focus is job creation, it is the preservation of South African heritage fare that we pride ourselves on, and the mission of creating a brand-new generation of food entrepreneurs.

Ukama Kitchen Incubator is the brain child of Cariema Isaacs and Janine Roberts. They have realised that Micro-enterprises are central to (1) growth, (2) employment creation and (3) poverty alleviation in Africa. There are many women who have magnificent recipes, often passed down through generations as heritage or cultural fare. These home cooks/bakers derive an income by selling their products to friends, family and the odd word-of-mouth purchase or recommendation – this is currently already happening in the community. The drawback of their home business is that these products cannot enter the formal retail or export market due to a lack of food safety certification, access to food/ packaging technology, support and financial restrictions.

We at Ukama Kitchen Incubator provide an affordable certified kitchen space, technical assistance and business acumen needed to transform their home cooking and baking business into a fully-fledged business which would produce products certified for the consumer market. They would therefore have access to market opportunities that allow traditional “home cooked”, culturally diverse foods that we like to refer to as “heritage fare”, to enter the formal retail economy (both nationally and internationally).

The advancement of disadvantaged entrepreneurs and micro-enterprise development is at the heart and very core of our business. We help disadvantaged entrepreneurial and passionate women by increasing their professionalism, opening up sales channels for their products and helping them achieve and maintain government food safety standards. Our company’s ethos goes back to an age-old saying: “It takes a village to raise a child”. We’ve taken this a step further and focus on the women who keep their communities together, who are often single mothers or sole breadwinners and they do whatever it takes to care for their families. They are indeed the ones who are the foundation of that “village” and the heart of their communities.

Ukama Kitchen Incubator, where food-trepreneurs are born.

Please join us on Friday, December 1st from 10h00 – 13h00 for the official opening of the Ukama Kitchen Incubator and come meet our team of up and coming food entrepreneurs whilst sampling their creations.

View our video on youtube here.


Janine Roberts has over 14 years’ experience in the packaging industry, and is a serial entrepreneur having been involved in social entrepreneurship for the past 10 years. Janine is passionate about addressing poverty through employment. Her company Ukama Packaging Solutions currently employs female entrepreneurs from disadvantaged communities and is a multi-stakeholder collaboration – a bridge – between clients seeking packaging services and micro-entrepreneurs providing the labor. In addition to the platform, premises and required certification, Ukama provides training, mentorship and support – such as bookkeeping assistance and business workshops – to the micro-enterprises, which in turn hires on average four people from their local community. Janine also offers employment to people working from home, mostly women, who look after disabled or sick family members and wouldn’t otherwise be able to work. In addition to the packaging business, Janine has also established the Ukama Community Foundation, an NGO linked to the company that feeds around 200 children every day from Vrygrond. For her social work and innovative business model, she has won several accolades including Tony Elumelu Foundation’s Top 1000 African Entrepreneurs and Spark International Changemaker award in 2015. Janine resides in Cape Town with her husband and three kids.
Cariema Isaacs is the author of My Cape Malay Kitchen published by Penguin Random House. She was born in Schotsche Kloof in Bo-Kaap, the Cape Malay Quarter in Cape Town. She has a natural flair in the kitchen, and from an early age was familiar with ingredients that her grandmother would transform into the most scrumptious dishes. Cariema is completing her diploma as a chef (part-time) at the International Centre of Culinary Arts in Dubai and have also secured a second book deal with Penguin Random House for release by April 2019. She has a personal attachment to the upliftment of women in her community and an inherent desire to empower through entrepreneurship. Cariema is currently employed (full time) with a multinational oil company. Her passion for skills development has led her to serve as a mentor, a career coach and a member of SHELL’s Women’s Network – assisting young women with career development in a male dominated environment. Cariema lived in Cape Town for most of her life, before moving to Johannesburg, and then finally Dubai, where she and her husband are raising their two teenage sons.