CA Ayanda Mvandaba is tapping into a new growth market for South Africa


Having recently bought e-commerce retailer Drink Nil, serial entrepreneur and CA(SA) Ayanda Mvandaba has seen an opportunity for South Africa to compete in the international non-alcoholic drinks market.

Ayanda Mvandaba chose pursuing a chartered accountancy over teaching mathematics so that she could have a bigger impact on empowering young people by helping to remove barriers – as evidenced in the work her consultancy company does.

She completed her BAcc (Hons) at Stellenbosch University in 2014 and did her articles at KPMG before deciding that this wasn’t the route she wanted to follow, choosing instead to be an entrepreneur who helps others, especially in the SMME sector.

Now a serial entrepreneur, Ayanda’s latest project has really captured her heart. Drink Nil offers an alternative to people who still want to party, but without the inevitable hangover.

Ayanda, who hails from Komani (formerly Queenstown) in the Eastern Cape, says she invested in the company after an evening out with her family for pizza, when she couldn’t drink an alcoholic beverage because she was pregnant.

“I was tired of drinking fizzy drinks for two. Then I realised that I’m not the only person in the world who doesn’t drink, but doesn’t want just a soda.”

This led to Ayanda doing a management buyout of Drink Nil from founders Fiona Hilton and Caroline van Schalkwyk. The non-alcoholic e-commerce retailer sells everything from wine, gin, spirits, mocktails, tonics, seltzers and ciders to beers.

Ayanda explains that the founders were happy to sell because the retailer, which started out as a tech project, had become bigger than anticipated, and it didn’t serve their purposes anymore. “I did some research and I found that non-alcoholic drinks are a growth market globally, and South Africa isn’t far behind the US and the European Union.”

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An IWSR Drinks Market Analysis report released in February 2021 found that consumer demand for no- and low-alcohol beer, wine, spirits, and ready-to-drink products will continue to grow. The no/low category grew its share of the total beverage alcohol market to three percent in 2020, while total volume is forecasted to grow by 31 percent as of this year, according to the “No- and Low-Alcohol Strategic Study 2021”.

The same study found that, of the 10 focus markets included in the research, South Africa is expected to experience the highest compound annual growth volume rate between 2020 and 2024 at 16 percent, although this is from a low base.

Ayanda believes that the trend of non-alcoholic beverages will really take off in the coming summer. “While our flavours are very similar to traditional alcoholic drinks, they come without the hangover, you don’t have to worry about getting home, and your body doesn’t look that bad in the mirror after a night out,” she says of the healthier alternative.

Empowering people

At Drink Nil, Ayanda doesn’t seek to completely take over, but rather work with the team already in place. She employs a similar philosophy at financial services company Kwandiso Consulting, where – as the company’s director – she trusts her team to manage the day-to-day operations.

Ayanda also aims to empower women through whatever she does, trying to create a culture that allows women to be independent as well as being themselves.

“It takes a different type of environment to enable a woman to become independent and herself. I believe that people and their families should come first, because that’s important.”

She started Kwandiso Consulting in June 2020 with a focus on SMMEs, women-owned businesses and governance. It seeks to enable financial inclusion and show entrepreneurs that CAs are not only for big businesses. It also provides pro bono services for organisations in the non-profit sector.

In December last year, she launched Ayanda Vabaza-Mvandaba Bursary Fund, which is funded by contributions from various stakeholders, friends, family and companies that share this vision. It’s available for students going into any field within the commerce faculty at a South African university.

Ayanda has been honoured several times for her work. In 2021, she was acknowledged as one of Africa’s Brightest Young Minds, which was followed by being a finalist in the Gender Mainstreaming Awards of RMB, Accenture and Business Engage in the category “Positive role model” in 2022.

Two years ago, she was named one of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants’ top 35-under-35 CAs. Last year, she received recognition as a finalist in the Woman of Stature Awards in the category “Woman in Community”.

“The one thing that I feel is the truest aspect of my life is having programmes and projects that are driven by humans. I am very proud of my teams and the support that they give me,” says Ayanda.

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