How this frozen yoghurt brand got to be on everyone’s lips


In just a few years, the Wakaberry Frozen Yoghurt brand has become a household name in frozen desserts. The brand sells frozen yoghurt with decadent toppings. The twist? The customer not only serves themselves, but is in charge of how much they want to spend. The brand’s success is all about creating an experience which keeps fans coming back for more.

In just a few years, the Wakaberry brand has come to be a household name in frozen desserts. The brand sells frozen yoghurt with decadent toppings. The twist? Customers not only serve themselves, but are in charge of how much they want to spend. The brand’s success is all about creating an experience which keeps fans coming back for more.

Wakaberry opened its first frozen yoghurt bar in Durban in May 2011. Since then the business has opened 33 franchised stores in eight provinces in South Africa. In March last year fast food franchisor, Famous Brands, bought a 70% stake in Wakaberry.


The Wakaberry founders, Michele and Ken Fourie,
and David Clark.

Why did you decide to establish a frozen yoghurt business in South Africa? 
We came back from the United States with an idea to open a self-service frozen yoghurt store in our home town, Durban. While living overseas we often treated our children to “froyo” – the concept is very popular there – and we thought it might take off in South Africa.

We saw that there was a gap in the market with limited existing competition. We partnered with a long-term friend David Clark, who did extensive market research before we opened our first store.  We held our breath while customers slowly started trickling in, until three months later when we barely had enough seating in our store.

Now we’re taking the concept beyond our borders. We’ve just opened our first frozen yoghurt bar in Windhoek, Namibia and are looking to expand into other African countries.

 How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?

1. A quality product. We are one of the only frozen yoghurt bars in South Africa which offers 100% natural, fresh yoghurt which has been naturally fermented and never leaves the cold chain.

2. A fun customer experience. Our interactive self-service facility and affordable pay-per-weight pricing system is a draw card because customers can be in charge of their own creation.

3. Superb branding. Everything we do is underpinned by strong branding. We have a youthful team which carefully crafts every element of the Wakaberry brand. They are continuously adding new facets to ensure that the brand remains youthful, quirky and relevant. This helps us to relate to our trend conscious, techno savvy, target market.

How can business owners create a strong brand?
It starts with knowing the business and who your customers are. Make sure that you do your homework. A lot of hard work and planning goes into building a company before it even launches. You must offer something of value to your customers. You don’t need to re-invent the wheel, just listen to your customers and observe the market carefully. This is how you get the insight to offer something that’s different and exciting.

Wakaberry runs a successful franchise model. What should entrepreneurs know about franchising? 
Wakaberry started as a mom-and-pop type of operation. It was a small business owned and managed by family members. We decided to franchise when holiday makers visited Durban and demanded we open more stores in their home cities. We also started receiving requests from people wanting to buy into the business. With the right franchisees as business partners, we opened our first franchised store in Lonehill, Johannesburg in 2012.

Significant research goes into starting a franchise. We crafted all our own structures and procedures. It was a learning curve, but we loved and still love every minute of it. To grow a successful franchise you need to be prepared to work long hours and be passionate about what you do.

How important is a strong team?
This is the most important factor in our business. We rely heavily on each other and many tasks overlap between departments. We really do consider ourselves to be the “Wakaberry Family”. This includes our core head office compliment, our partners at Famous Brands, our franchisees, and their funky WakaCrew members.

Reference: SME South Africa –  http://www.smesouthafrica.co.za/.

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