Food & Drinks

Q&A with Yo Coco Founder Sinenhlanhla Ndlela

We learn more about handmade, dairy-free vegan-friendly ice cream.

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Yo Coco | House and Leisure

With more people adopting a plant-based lifestyle, the demand for vegan treats is on the rise. This includes everyone's favourite dessert – ice-cream. Enter Sinenhlanhla Ndlela. When she embarked on a spiritual journey and decided to become vegan, she realised the lack of dairy-free ice cream available.

So she created an online company that will fill that gap in the market. Founded in 2016, Yo Coco offers up a range of handmade, dairy-free ice cream that is available in Durban, Joburg and Cape Town. As a young black female entrepreneur in the food industry, Ndlela was featured in the inaugural FOOD XX Symposium and Awards, an initiative that recognises women in the food industry.

We caught up with Ndlela to find out more about Yo Coco and what it's like owning an ice cream company. 

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Yo Coco | House and Leisure

When you were younger, did you ever think you would own an ice cream company? What did you want to be when you grew up?

I loved ice cream when I was younger, but owning an ice cream company never actually crossed my mind. I didn’t realise people could do that (I don’t know where I thought ice cream came from!). I originally wanted to be a commercial lawyer, psychologist or a director of photography.

If you were a Yo Coco flavour, which one would you be?

I would be strawberry with popping candy and candyfloss!

Which tastes remind you of your childhood?

I used to eat a lot of pap and milk. My grandfather had lots of cattle and I would fetch cow's milk from him every evening.

What do you enjoy most about owning an ice cream company?

I get to be creative and witness how much joy we add to people's lives every day.

Yo Coco | House and Leisure

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If you could change one aspect of your job, what would that be?

I don’t like only having 24 hours in a day. 

What is the most rewarding and challenging part about being a woman in your industry? 

The most rewarding thing about my industry is being able to experiment as much as I want and add love to people’s lives.

One of the more challenging aspects is that when I'm working with a white person, customers usually think he/she is the decision-maker. The same thing happens when I'm working with a man. I often feel like I have to keep proving myself to people.

Which part of the world should every serious food lover visit?

Cape Town. The city has such amazing food! 

What is your current favourite restaurant?

I went to Port Elizabeth recently and visited a restaurant called Ginger – it's amazing!