Since 2014 the Nedbank Kapana Cook-Off competition has been a yearly occurrence on the Namibian culinary calendar, providing a springboard to success for some informal traders who specialise in the what has for long been a traditional beef delicacy known as ‘kapana’.

During the past weekend a joyous celebration of this kapana culinary heritage and entrepreneurial spirit was on display at the Annual Ongwediva Trade Fair this past weekend.

As a cornerstone of Nedbank Namibia’s commitment to supporting the informal market and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the competition showcases the remarkable growth and potential of the proudly Namibian Kapana delicacy, from being a beloved street snack into a thriving commercial venture.

Ms Martha Murorua, Managing Director of Nedbank Namibia, stated that right now many food establishments such as hotels and restaurants serve kapana on their menus, which is a result of the efforts of the Kapana competition.

Apart from the evolution of kapana from being a street beef snack to becoming a delicious bite at local restaurants, and possibly also becoming an internationally recognized Namibian dish, the kapana competition’s main focus is in changing lives.

At this year’s final, Ester Silas was crowned the 2023 Nedbank Kapana Cook-Off competition and walked away with the life changing grand prize which consists of a fully equipped mobile food trailer, a N$10,000 cash prize, and a N$5,000 Bakpro Vetkoek Voucher.

Silas was followed by the 1st runner-up, Loise Iimvula, and the 2nd runner-up, Laura Egumbo.

An elated Silas expressed her gratitude and excitement, saying she is touched beyond words right now. “Winning this competition means the world to me. It’s a validation of my hard work, and it fuels my passion for sharing my love for Namibian food such as kapana.

“I am incredibly thankful to God for blessing me, my family, and friends for their support and always believing in me. To Nedbank and all the other sponsors, thank you for providing this platform for upcoming entrepreneurs like me.  I can’t wait to start this journey and build a successful business.”

Nedbank Namibia’s communication team have emphasised that the Kapana Cook-off competition is more than just a culinary contest; it’s a catalyst for change in communities and businesses.

Martha Murorua, Managing Director of Nedbank Namibia, captured this sentiment in her speech, saying, “The Kapana Cook-off competition serves as a heartfelt effort to connect with and give back to the communities that our operations touch, all while fostering economic growth and honouring the cultural significance of Kapana.”

Murorua highlighted that the ninth edition of the Nedbank Kapana Cook-Off Competition has solidified its standing as one of Namibia’s premier food festivals.

Nedbank Namibia’s unwavering dedication to the competition is reflected in its significant contribution of over seven million Namibian dollars (N$7,000,000) since its inception in 2014, with financial contribution to winners reaching almost the two million Namibia dollars (N$2,000,000) mark. This investment underscores the bank’s dedication to economic growth and development of small businesses.

The true impact of the competition is evident in the successes of past winners, who have evolved into culinary pioneers and successful entrepreneurs. They have not only started but, in some instances, expanded their businesses to enrich Namibia’s vibrant gastronomic landscape.

“Their achievements,” Murorua emphasised, “stand as a testament to both the enduring spirit of Namibian entrepreneurship and the transformative power of this competition.”

This year’s Nedbank Kapana Cook-off was a captivating journey that began with regional rounds in Oshakati, Walvis Bay, and Windhoek. These events allowed contestants to showcase their skills and creativity, setting the stage for a competitive finale.

The rewards were significant, with the grand prize including a fully equipped mobile food trailer, a N$10,000 cash prize, and a N$5,000 Bakpro Vetkoek Voucher. Second and third place winners also received valuable prizes, including a N$7000 and N$5000 cash prize respectfully, underscoring the bank’s commitment to supporting entrepreneurial endeavours at every level.

The Nedbank Namibia Kapana Cook-Off competition co-sponsors and partners include, Bakpro, Omulunga Radio, Agra, and the Namibia Chefs Association.

Nedbank’s communication team said that the Nedbank Kapana Cook- Off competition stands as a beacon of what is possible when culture, entrepreneurship, and culinary brilliance converge. Far more than a contest of skill, it emerges as a dynamic movement that propels economic empowerment forward.

“As we celebrate this year’s winners and participants, we are reminded of the competitions larger mission: to enrich lives, empower communities, and amplify the diverse flavours and stories that make up the fabric of Namibia.”

In the photo: Namibian Chefs’ Association representative, Chef Philip Klynsmith; 2023 Nedbank Kapana Cook-Off Competition Champion, Ester Silas; and Nedbank Namibia Managing director, Martha Murorua.