'You don’t need funding and connections to start a business', six-figure atchar startup proves

Business Insider SA
Musi Atchar (Supplied)
Musi Atchar (Supplied)

  • Musi Atchar is a small atchar business started by Modikoe Musi in Pretoria during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • It started as nothing more than a challenge to prove that not everyone needs funding and connections to start a business.
  • Although the business was started at Musi's parents' house with no money at all, the 23-year-old entrepreneur managed to make it a six-figure business in just a year.
  • For more stories go to

Musi Atchar, an atchar business started by Modikoe Musi, launched in 2020 during the pandemic as nothing more than an Instagram challenge. Today Musi supplies his spicy product almost all over South Africa and runs a six-figure small business.

The challenge was to prove that one can start a thriving small business without funding and connections, and Musi took it upon himself to become the guinea pig.

"During lockdown Level 5, going into Level 4, I met up with an entrepreneur who was live [on Instagram], giving business tips. I joined the live [insta] because I had something to share.

Musi Atchar (Supplied)
Musi Atchar (Supplied)

"He liked me and thought we'd start a movement where we have lives every night and just talk about business and encourage people to do the best they can amidst the chaos," he told Business Insider South Africa.

Through the platform, the team then started a charity organisation and managed to raise R1 million by asking for donations.

According to Musi, during one of the live sessions, someone said "in the land that we live in, without connections and funding, you'll never make it in business."

Musi Atchar (Supplied)
Musi Atchar (Supplied)

And, in an attempt to prove that this is not true, Musi was challenged to start a business from the ground without funding or any connections.

"I got back to the drawing board, tried to think of every idea I could start with no money, and nothing came to mind.

"I was at my parents then. I walked into the house, and I saw my mom making atchar. I thought to myself this atchar is delicious and I enjoy it. Maybe there might be someone else out there who might like it," he said.

Musi, who was 22-years-old at the time, used his expertise in e-commerce to build his own site and marketing campaign to get the atchar to customers.

"Because we still did not have funding, we got plastic bottles at home, packaged the atchar in the bottle and we made our first sale, and then our second sale.

"The journey was a bit harder than it should've been but the tips I have now, are what carried me through the journey and helped me succeed," Musi said.

Musi Atchar (Supplied)
Musi Atchar (Supplied)

The entrepreneur, who is also a luxury car salesman, got a few people to post about the product on their Instagram stories since he didn't have enough money to pay for Instagram posts. He essentially traded a bottle of atchar that retails for R99 per litre, for an Instagram story post. It started spreading like wildfire.

"I got us an atchar subscription service because I had a lot of repeat customers. I noticed that sometimes a customer would forget to place his monthly order, so I approached them and said if I can debit you each month for your purchase then you won't have to log onto the site again or enter your details for an order," he said.

Through the subscription service, the entrepreneur has customers who have subscribed for between five to 10 bottles a month in different parts of South Africa. His product comes in different flavours, ranging from Normal, Musi Mild, and Musi Fire. 

In addition to his mother, the 23-year-old entrepreneur also has two other employees and between December 2020 and July 2021, the business generated a six figure revenue.  

"One of the best things I've learnt is if you put your customers first and always give give give, they will want to support you at all costs," he said.

After dropping out of Wits University to focus on his first business, which failed, Musi knew there was something out there for him. He encourages other youngsters to believe in their ideas.

"Never be scared of starting small but always think big. A lot of entrepreneurs feel like they cannot start their business without funding, they think they need the best offices and the best machinery in order to start.

"We started extremely small but always knew what the bigger picture was. If we had not started small, we would never been here today," he said.

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