Matawi Gin

Matawi, a new premium gin, honey infused

Matawi – which means ‘branches’ in Swahili – is a 100% black woman owned and managed alcoholic honey beverage company that was incorporated in 2018, following the worst drought the Western Cape had experienced in over a century, which saw the Province’s taps come perilously close to running dry.

Matawi’s founders were motivated to create a business contributing to water conservation. Mindful that a considerable percentage of the Western Cape’s water sustains agriculture, of which the wine and craft spirit market is a sizeable sector, they sought to identify a less-water intensive form of alcohol, which could sustain income-generation and job-creation.

Mead / alcoholic honey beverages were singled out, since they dispense with the need to irrigate base ingredients for months, restricting water-usage to production which translates to just a fraction of the water needed to make wine, beer, vodka, etc. The appeal of mead was also its taste versatility, conducive to anchoring a diverse product portfolio. The Matawi range, which is all-natural, relying solely on honey, fruits, teas and botanicals for flavourants, comprises a braggot (mead, craft beer blend), distilled mead (honey gin), mead liqueur and soon to be launched mead mixer (a fruit-infused, ready-to-drink mead).

Matawi Gin

Matawi is thus a for-profit venture with a clear environmental ethos: the mead range seeks, foremost, to contribute to water conservation. However, Matawi additionally positions itself as a social impact business, striving to secure the ancillary benefits of reviving indigenous mead-making heritage, to entrench a sophisticated ‘iqhilika’ brand; promoting responsible production and consumption, and; creating a value chain facilitating market access – at assured fair prices – to African beekeepers/honey suppliers, and small producers of fruits, herbs, teas and botanicals, to create income-generating and employment opportunities for historically disadvantaged communities (rural women and youth in particular) so as to alleviate entrenched poverty and inequality in South Africa. Hence their tagline: ‘Matawi is great for your palate, and the planet!’.

Matawi takes seriously its environmental impact, using only biodegradable packaging and prioritising an end-to-end sustainable enterprise, placing the planet on an equal footing with people and profits.

Matawi was poised to launch when the Covid-19 pandemic struck! Multiple alcohol sale bans and the contraction of the hospitality and on-consumption market (restaurants, hotels, largescale events) later, they’re still standing. They’ve spent the past few months building an e-commerce system to bring their range directly to customers, which can be found at

Matawi products can also be found at www.brownsense.Africa, The Cape Town Wine Hub and the Thirsty Scarecrow.

While they are proud to bring you the Matawi Alcoholic Honey Range, their success ultimately depends on your enjoyment of it! So please share your feedback with them at And if you would like to receive updates on their journey, be sure to follow them at @MatawiMead!

The visible woman behind Matawi

Nokukhanya Mncwabe

Nokukhanya Mncwabe abandoned a human rights career spanning over ten years to pursue Matawi full-time. She felt that as much as she had contributed to the development and reform of several human rights frameworks and policies, these did not practically, and to the desired scale, change the material circumstances of people living in poverty. She realized the time for talking had run its course, she needed to pull up her sleeves and get to work!

Matawi is the profit vehicle through which Khanya hopes to contribute to job-creation and other income-generating opportunities, particularly for historically disadvantaged South Africa.