Having been unemployed for several months, Itumeleng Lekomanyane’s savings were depleted. His previous business venture had not worked out and he was heading into a deep state of depression. Itumeleng knew he needed to be strong, not only for himself, but for his three year-old daughter, Reabetswe Dietsela.
He knew he had to take one last gamble on himself and not let anything get in his way. With just R800 left to his name he knew he had to take one last gamble on himself and not let anything get in his way. He was absolutely determined to multiply that money to make a better future for both his daughter and himself.
That’s when Itumeleng had the idea for his next venture – selling sandwiches in high-traffic areas to hungry commuters! The biggest expense, he recalls, was having to buy the sandwich containers in bulk of 250. On his very first day he set out to the MTN taxi rank with 10 prepared sandwiches to sell. Much later, walking home dejectedly with six leftovers, he went to close friends and family and asked them to test the sandwich, worried he may need to tweak the ingredients. They all loved the sandwiches and their enthusiasm gave him the confidence to keep pushing through with this plan. Itumeleng also re-examined his selling style and realised it needed to be done with more eagerness.
Their enthusiasm gave him the confidence to keep pushing through with this plan.
Heading out the following day with 15 sandwiches, a brand new selling attitude, and a resolve to sell every sandwich, Itumeleng found success! At the end of the day he walked home with arms empty and pockets full.
Each day he added five more sandwiches until he was successfully selling 40 per day. He decided to expand his business, asked an old friend and ex-business partner, Sammy Diphoko, to join him, and set out to another site, the Bree Street Taxi rank. In no time at all he had built customer loyalty up to 40 sandwiches a day here as well.
Success at both taxi ranks meant he could employ staff to help him reach his goal of becoming ‘The Sandwich King’ of the Johannesburg CBD. He currently employs four staff and his business partner at the fifth site, with him working a new sixth one. He envisions having ten sites by June 2020 and hopefully by then he will have saved enough money to be able to buy his first food truck.
“To all the youth out there, everything is possible. Never give up hope. You need to move and DO and be productive.”
Itumeleng plans to make street vending hip, something to be viewed positively for those youngsters entering the workplace. He says, “To all the youth out there, everything is possible. Never give up hope. You need to move and DO and be productive. Sell cookies, cokes and sweets, whatever it is you can, just DO IT!
Edited By: Michelle Pagel
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