With unemployment in South Africa currently sitting at a staggering 29.1%, according to Stats SA, it’s not surprising that many people are forced to look for alternative means to stay afloat. 23-year-old Siyathemba Dangazele hatched a plan to sell fast food. Today he is the person to go to when you’re looking for ikota (bunny chow) and burgers in Philippi, Cape Town.
“After finishing school, I worked at a couple of fast food places. So I’d often make food and ask my colleagues to taste it and they all seemed to enjoy it. They encouraged me to start my own business and that spoke to my childhood dream; I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I then worked with Thulani Ngece from Better Life who contributed to my skills and supported me with everything he had,” explains Siyathemba.
“Thulani, who also had a similar business up and running, advised me to save up money. I contemplated and slept on this for quite some time, eventually I saved up for two months and managed to buy my first stock. Sis Connie and her husband ‘Daddy’ were already running a fishery and they provided me with a shelter to operate in.”
Siyathemba says he has had a passion for food from an early age.
“My mom is a good cook so I always took lessons from her. I’m a foodie myself so cooking has never felt like a chore to me.”
Siyathemba grew up like most township children with ambitions of uplifting his community.
“My parents were too strict so I didn’t have time to be slanging. I grew up in an overcrowded place where the stench of sewage down the road became normal, and jealousy was the order of the day especially if you had big ambitions. It’s hard being an ambitious young person in informal settlements cos people don’t see you amounting to anything,” he recalls.
He admits his fast food business is not without its own hiccups, but he feeds on positivity.
“I started the business under pressure; the people I cater for are the less privileged ones. Sometimes they want to take food on credit, or their money is short. But I appreciate that I have become close with people who’re already acquainted with this business I’m into, as they’re constantly steering me into the right direction.”
Just like dough rises when it’s exposed to heat, Siyathemba believes the challenges he’s facing will only make him grow as an entrepreneur.
“Entrepreneurship is something I always dreamt of cos I’m a hands-on person. I love and respect people from all works of life. I studied Commerce at school and I think I’ve got the basic foundation to make it in this industry. Huge thanks goes to Ms Linlee Solms for teaching me discipline and the ins and outs of running a business.
“My long term goal is to employ people and share my business expertise with them so they can go and start their own establishments. I agree with the saying, ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’”
Siyathemba wouldn’t close the pot without giving you some food for thought.
“Seek help from those who know better, and stay strong when the going gets harder. An egg becomes stronger when it’s exposed to heat. Keep a positive mindset and know God will never give you something you can’t handle. Lastly, make friends with people who have the same ambitions as you.”
Tell us: If you could start your own business, what would it be?