BY GCIS VUK'UZENZELE
Growing up in rural Limpopo with tasty chicken feet and necks as one of his most loved meals inspired entrepreneur Eiren Drake to can the widely enjoyed traditional dish for all South Africans to enjoy.
Drake, the Founder of Tin Stuf, says he was exposed to chicken feet, necks and pap as a child. He is happy the experience is now benefitting him..
Born in Tzaneen, 27-year-old Drake spent most of his weekends with his grandparents on their timber farm in George’s Valley. He spent a significant amount of time with his late grandfather’s employees, whose children were his friends. “This is when I was introduced to chicken feet, which is still one of my favourite meals,” he confirms.
Later in life, when Drake became aware of the importance of food security, he developed an interest in different preparation methods for traditional South African foods. “There is a lack of access to affordable, nutritious protein, especially meat products. This is where the idea for Tin Stuf came from. My grandfather was my father figure; he was the brain behind the innovation.”
Drake explains that it’s hard for some people to access meat markets as they are far, while for others they have no freezers and access to electricity. "This ignited my passion to find a solution to these challenges,” says Drake.
While Tin Stuf was registered in 2017, its canning facility only commenced commercial-scale operations in early 2020. The factory now employs 35 people, including several of Drake’s childhood friends who introduced him to the dish. “They are the very people behind our innovation to develop a new product concept and our inspiration to follow through and attempt to launch it.
“I have the capacity to double this number of employees, with the introduction of a night shift, if the demand for the product continues to grow.” In February 2022, Drake was approached by the Shoprite Group and agreed to a three-year exclusive deal to supply the retailer.
The product is also available online, via Takealot.com, directly from the factory. It is also in stock with a few wholesalers and informal retailers in the northern parts of SA. Drake’s advice to the youth is to believe you can be successful.