What began as a modest local gathering to celebrate the opening of the new Nedbank Ongwediva Branch in 2014 has evolved into a showcase of a proudly Namibian delicacy – the beloved kapana street snack – and a thriving commercial venture.

The competition now stands as a cornerstone of Nedbank Namibia’s commitment to supporting the informal market and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), with the bank having invested an impressive N$8 million since its inception.

“The Nedbank Kapana Cook-off Competition has grown beyond the mere concept of cooking. This competition is about empowering individuals to turn their passion for food into thriving businesses,” says Selma Kaulinge, communications and public relations manager at Nedbank Namibia.

“But more than being just a business opportunity or a growing industry, this competition at its heart is something uniquely Namibian and draws everyone together around a fire,” adds Kaulinge.

“Kapana is a Namibian culinary jewel born of the desire to provide a community with affordable, bite-sized bits of this country’s world-class beef. Kapana is more than a dish – it is a symphony of flavours, a dance of spices, and a celebration of our nation’s soul.”

This year the competition will continue its tradition of spotlighting the finest kapana-grilling talents from across the country. The northern round will sear and sizzle in Oshakati, the coastal round will bring the heat to Walvis Bay, and the central round will spice things up in Windhoek.

Additionally, the competition will expand its reach to include the vibrant diamond town of Oranjemund, which will join the lineup as a new contender. A total of 3 contestants will be selected from each round to compete in the finals at the prestigious 2024 Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair.

Prizes await those who dare to grill with greatness. The winner will receive a kapana kitchen trailer worth N$100 000, N$10 000 that will be deposited into a Nedbank account, and a N$5 000 Bakpro Vetkoek voucher.

The runners up will also be handsomely rewarded with Nedbank accounts and Bakpro Vetkoek vouchers. Previous winners of the competition have transformed their triumphs into thriving enterprises, exemplifying the mission of this competition to empower self-starters.

Ester Silas from Windhoek has become an inspiration to aspiring business owners nationwide, having launched her own business just a month after she had won the competition in 2023.

She has stationed her kapana kitchen trailer in Greenwell Matongo, a suburb in Windhoek where she caters to her community and plans to grow her operation.

“I am still new to the market. I am aware that this will be an intense job,” Silas remarked at the launch of her kapana kitchen trailer in September last year. “I plan on hiring someone to assist me on busy days and with after-hours sales. I will also employ the use of different channels to market my business to the people.”

Kristy Shomongula, the 2021 winner and the owner of Ndafimanekwa Kapana, has also successfully transformed her victory into a thriving business. Despite her business’s success, she acknowledges the challenges posed by economic fluctuations.

“Food business owners must study the market and have a solid plan in place,” Shomongula advises.

Eli Abel, the 2017 winner, was unemployed at the time of the competition and a friend who was aware of his culinary talent encouraged him to enter. Today, he owns the coffee shop Mad Chef & Chillar in Ongwediva.

According to Abel, what sets his business apart from those in the same industry is ‘honest food and service, as well as hard work’.

“At Nedbank Namibia, we believe in the transformative power of enterprise, and the Kapana Cook-off Competition is a testament to that belief,” says Kaulinge. “By partnering with like-minded organisations, we aim to elevate Namibian cuisine and celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit that defines our nation.”

This year the competition’s co-sponsors and partners include Bakpro, Oranjemund Diamond Festival, Omulunga Radio, Namibian Chefs Association, AGRA, and AGRA ProVision.

Kaulinge says that as the Nedbank Kapana Cook-off Competition celebrates its 10-year anniversary, Namibians countrywide are invited to join the festivities of culinary excellence, business enterprise, and the irresistible flavours of kapana.

In the photo: Kapana cook on the grill at the Nedbank Kapana Cook-Off Competition launch.