Lesotho’s own oven baked pizza

Lesotho’s own oven baked pizza

ROMA – FEW people can resist the urge to taste Lesotho’s latest and tastiest pizza — Spetzos Pizza. It is a homemade pizza, made from a Lesotho-invented wood-fired oven.
It is one of the latest in a string of innovations by the National University of Lesotho (NUL) graduates, in whose ranks is Teboho Nchaba with a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Electronics.

There are reasons to claim Spetzos Pizza as our very own! Simple reasons! Everything from the oven itself to the tasty innovative pizza is the brainchild of our fellow countryman.
Where else would you find pizzas with the following names: Mphatlatsane, Khoeli, ‘Mantsopa, Lepoqo, Mafube? The list goes on.
“Many things inspired me to go in this direction,” Nchaba says. “First, I remember my neighbour once saying to me, “why should you work for another man?” when I confided in him, my desire to be employed.”

That statement never left his mind. Indeed he had always wanted to start a business but the statement was a final nail on the coffin.
Like many of today’s youth, Nchaba has found himself highly skeptical of Basotho’s ingrained cultures that have only served to hold the entire nation back for decades.
“The worst of them all is the culture of education for employment,” he says.

In his view, business has defaulted to a thing to get into when one is desperate and there are no other alternatives.
“The result is what I would like to call desperate entrepreneurs, a people whose drive and tenacity is admirable but unfortunately, in the majority of cases, are not equipped with the skills necessary to make a significant impact on the macro-economy.”
Indeed Lesotho is one funny country of mainly “desperate entrepreneurs,” where business itself (the very backbone of any serious country’s economy by the way) is neglected by the so-called “educated.”

“I wanted to be part of the people who are changing this culture,” Nchaba says.
One peculiar thing about Nchaba is that he is a realist. He knew he could never start on the same footing as local Pizza outlets (often opulent foreign based franchises). So he set out to produce a pizza of a better quality, but with relatively less capital injection.

While studying in Cape Town, he was inspired by a restaurant which produced spectacularly good seafood with apparently little investment in associated buildings.
The idea crossed his mind.

“So it is not necessarily the buildings but the quality of the product, eh!” What a brilliant idea!
When he was in the United States, working as a visiting Associate Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, he saw a lot of food trucks and he was further inspired.
Now listen to this because it is at the very heart of innovation.

Today’s youth are learning that they can no longer wait for promises from those folks who seem to enjoy keeping on saying they would do this or that for them; NO!
They have figured out that the best way is to start small by themselves, using what they already have. What a liberating revelation for them!
So Nchaba did a lot of research about wood-fired ovens to make pizza. He researched about the trailers, the bases, the dome, the roofs and so on.
And he set out to find them. He would soon learn one important lesson. Innovation is about teamwork!

He observed existing ovens across the country. He toured the country in search of old, strong trailers. He asked someone in South Africa to build a dome.
He got his old high school friend (who, by the way, gave him the name Spetzo, hence the company, Spetzos Mobile Pizza Restaurant) to help with the making of brackets and shovels.
Yes, He got his former high school woodwork teacher to help with the roof. He got a highly skilled person to share the secrets of dough making and, finally he went on Facebook looking for staff.

It was as if Nchaba got this advice from Jim Lovell, ‘There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch things happen, and there are people who wonder what happened. To be successful, you need to be that person who makes things happen.’
When all was set, then it was time to experiment with customer reception.

“We wood-fired our pizzas and sold them on the streets,” he says. “It was an immediate success from day one. People kinda kept saying, “Goodness! It is a real pizza!””
Forgive them, these are Basotho genuinely trying to adapt to the reality that we are now entering a different era altogether.
An era where Lesotho will no longer be at the constant mercy of other countries’ products, thanks to this young generation that has dared to think differently.
So what are Nchaba’s last words to the educated young folks waiting for “good” jobs out there? “Let us move away from seeking good jobs, to creating good jobs.”

Own Correspondent

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