#WIB – Q&A With Nicolette Weitsz Owner Of Fish4Africa

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1. Can you please tell us more about your business?

A. Fish4Africa is a passionate fresh fish and seafood supplier that runs its own 3 deli store outlets and has a presence in the bigger retail supermarkets as a supplier of Fresh Fish for 23 Pick ‘n Pay stores as well as owning, managing, and staffing fresh fish counters in 6 Super Spar stores in the Western Cape. Fish4Africa owns and operates our own fishing vessels, which we’ve done successfully for the past 23 years giving us a competitive edge when it comes to giving our customers qualified expertise and advice on fresh fish enquiries.

As the business has grown in the retail space, we’ve been privileged to create more employment opportunities amongst candidates from previously disadvantaged backgrounds and encourage more women to enter the industry by providing training and upskilling opportunities.

2. When, how and why did you start your business?

A. I started my career in the financial services industry over 15 years ago. After four years of gaining valuable experience in this sector, I decided to join the family business (2003) that focused on catching and supplying mostly overseas markets.

At the beginning of 2003, while the business was undergoing a transformation, a dedicated resource was required to assist with the skills development of the staff and the submission of applications required in order for it to become BEE compliant. This is when I stepped in and took on this responsibility.

During this time, I honed my skills and put my knowledge into practice, becoming fully involved with the administrative, financial, HR and management of the business.

In 2005, the Fish4Africa brand was officially launched and the business started to develop its own identity, with the opening of its first deli store in Hout Bay. Being in the fishing industry at that stage, I personally felt there was a stronger need to supply the local market and to provide South Africans with a healthy alternative to meat protein as well as ensure food security by tapping into retail as a wider distribution channel.

There was a gap in the market to supply the retail supermarket sector with our products. Taking the initiative to tap into the retail market helped me to launch my own extension of the business, which I now run independently from the deli stores that are family owned.

My main motivation for launching the retail side of the business was to create more employment opportunities for those from previously disadvantaged backgrounds and to encourage more women to enter the fishing industry. Our industry presents many opportunities for upskilling and training women for tasks such as managing fish counters, filleting fish and assisting with the day-to-day operations of the business. To date, all my staff have completed supervisor management courses and are all previously disadvantaged employees.

As my involvement has naturally grown with supplying our fresh fish and seafood products to the retail sector and managing the fresh fish counters of another large Retailer, my responsibilities have increased to include the complete management/operations of all our vessels.

I am now one of the few women who has taken on an operations role in the fishing industry (traditionally this role is undertaken by men) and am proud to embody and promote ethical fishing practices as well as when it comes to the purchasing of fish products, eg. being weary of fish species that are on SASSI’s red list and ensuring that we fish sustainably.

3. What is your role in the business?

A. I am the owner of the Retail Supply business within the Fish4Africa brand. In addition I am the Managing Director for the other 5 businesses within the group, which involves me giving Strategic, Financial and Operational oversight as well as management of the employees on a daily basis.  I am also a shore skipper for two fishing vessels.

4. Where did you study and what did you study?

A. I matriculated in 1997 from Fairbairn College.

  • Attended Varsity College in 2009

Qualification gained: Business Management Diploma

  • Attended Association of Unit Trusts in 2002

Qualification gained: Unit Trust Management & Trading

5. How did you finance your business?

A. We received Funding from Anglo America as well as SEDA.

6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.

A. Constant Planning.  Every day starts and ends with a planning. 

The day starts at

5am – 5:30am Quite time with my spiritual anchor

5:30 – 6am – checking overnight messages, emails and adjusting if needs be my daily plans

6am – 7:30am being a mom to 3 beautiful daughters and getting them ready and to school

8am –4:30pm Management run

5:30pm – 7:30pm Mom duties, making dinner and homework

8pm – 9pm Checking emails, messages and prep for next day

7. How do you balance your home life and your work life?

A. It’s unconventional. I can’t overthink things but just try my very best to keeping planning in advance and be organized. 

8. What drives you and inspires you?

A. In short, it is simply empowering and bettering people’s lives.

As a dedicated and people-centric leader, I am passionate about employment and staff upliftment. I am personally invested in the well-being of our staff and am committed to creating an environment where they are supported and can thrive. I also have an added commitment to the employment of women in a still very male-dominated fishing industry and contributing to food security in our nation by giving the people of South Africa the opportunity to enjoy a variety of Fresh fish as an alternative to meat proteins.

On a personal level, I am a mom of three girls. Knowing that I am able to give my girls access to the best education is a big motivating factor and of course, making my parents proud is important to me and inspires me.

9. Where and when do you have your best ideas?

A. Driving in the car.

10. Where and how do you market/advertise your business for sales leads?

A. We make use of Social Media to drive foot traffic to our independent deli stores as well as benefitting greatly from Word of Mouth from satisfied customers. Collaborative agreements like having fresh fish counters in Spar stores or supplying a big retailer like Pick n’ Pay helps by benefiting as a by-product of their marketing efforts to attract customers to their stores.

We’ve had to actively chase and engage conversations with these retailers to generate this business.

11. What is next for your business?

A. Going forward, my vision for the Fish4Africa retail side of the business is to extend our retail operations to a national level, create more job opportunities and empower more women to enter the industry by providing professional training and guidance.

12. What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business?
  • The three C’s…. Consistancy, courage and commitment
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes time to build an empire therefore don’t become despondent when things aren’t going according to plan or if it takes longer than expected.
  • Stay true to yourself and your values

Short Bio:

Nicolette is a Business owner, strategic financial manager, and the Managing Director of Fish4Africa, which involves overseeing 3 franchise retail outlets, and a division dedicated to the promotion of Fish4 Africa products within the larger retailer supermarket sector of South Africa.

She is one of the very few women who manage fishing vessels.  She is a shore skipper to Dantago (Trawler)and Nicolette (hake Longliner).

She is a champion of social responsibility and aims to leverage business success to help others achieve their dreams. She prioritises social projects that serve and support women, children, and vulnerable members of society.

Contact Details:

Ph : 021 556 4645

LinkedIn: https://za.linkedin.com/in/nicolettedefreitas

Facebook: www.facebook.com/fish4africa