Almost all hustlers agree on the revised saying, “Good things come to those who actually go out and hustle,” and Itumeleng Lekomanyane’s life testifies to that. Itumeleng, always elegantly dressed, sits next to his sandwiches on the streets of Joburg.
“I run a sandwich-making business, Sandwich Nton Ntons, and it was inspired by my being unemployed. My other business wasn’t doing so well, and I was therefore unable to take care of my daughter. So I had to come up with a plan to keep me sustained so I thought of something that isn’t already sold on the streets of Joburg.
“Then I came up with the idea of selling healthy sandwich platters. I used my daughter’s day care money, which was just over R1000 so she didn’t go to crèche that month. Now I have just launched my own 100% juice as well and we can only go big from here!”
Itumeleng hails from rural North West and only moved to Joburg in 2004.
“That’s the same year my father died. My mom brought me to Jozi to live with her where she was trying find a job after spending most of my life with grandparents. In Grade 10 I was identified amongst the top 8 boys who got to attend an after school program at St Johns College for boys, which targeted previously disadvantaged students and helped us with Mathematics, Physical Science and English.”
He then mixed with the wrong crew and found himself sidetracked.
“In 2011 I just went AWOL, became rebellious, and found myself losing direction. I got drunk every opportunity I got, and eventually failed my matric that year. I rewrote my matric in 2012 and passed. In 2014 I worked at Microsoft as a sales specialist but unfortunately got retrenched in 2016.”
Sandwich Nton Nton is not Itumeleng’s first shot at business, he had a few other stints that didn’t
“My first business was with a business partner, Sammy Diphoko. We were designing matric jackets, school and corporate clothing with custom made embroidery, and that didn’t go well as the business is seasonal so it dies out during off-season.”
As if proving true the saying, “Birds of a feather flock together,” Itumeleng and Sammy’s paths have crossed again.
“A month into opening Nton Nton, I realised the pressure was mounting as the production had to increase. More sales needed to be made so I decided to call Sammy to come help me out with operations. I gave him a stake in the business, and we work well together and our visions are aligned!”
Even though he’s got a partner now to carry the baton with, he’s still yet to overcome certain
“I have been struggling to get my trading licence, security guards fight me every time I try opening up a market. Also my shifts start at 5am-10am and I’m struggling to find youth who can put up with those early mornings.”
Speaking of youth, Itumeleng believes entrepreneurship could help eradicate youth unemployment.
“Having a degree clearly means nothing in South Africa cos people are still unemployed with needed skills like nursing and teaching. The solution then would be to empower the youth with enough skills in business so they can take care of future generations. We need to generate generational wealth to end poverty and get into the mindset of starting our own businesses so we won’t have health problems, that come with unemployment, such as depression.”
He’s preaching what he practises as he’s already got people working under him.
“I have a guy at MTN rank number 2, and just hired a second guy who will stay at Bree while I go get a new market at Standard Bank on Anderson,” posted Itumeleng on a Facebook group, garnering a whooping five thousand likes.
Sandwich Nton Ntons is only about three months old and Itumeleng’s ideas are out of the box.
“I want it to be a household name where people can have a healthier option in what they eat and drink. We want to empower the youth by giving them jobs to sustain them in the long run. We want to help eradicate poverty, to supply the private/public sector with good, nutritional food, and give good nutrition to kids in feeding schemes in schools.”
Itumeleng concludes with a few lines of encouragement.
“It is possible to get out of the situation you are facing right now but taking it a day at a time, thinking positively, believing, praying, staying active and prioritizing, the possibilities are endless. Take initiative, think of a business idea. The streets are where the money is at!”
For functions or small small gatherings, Itumeleng can be contacted on these numbers: 0784273500/0659372131
Tell us: What do you think about Itumeleng’s journey?