Within six months, twenty-seven-year-old Itumeleng Lekomamyane grew his sandwich business into a R20,000 a month enterprise with four locations across Johannesburg’s central business district (CBD).
Lekomamyane started Sandwich Nton Ntons in August 2019 when his clothing and embroidery business was struggling.
“I had a choice to either pay my three-year-old’s daughter’s maintenance, or use the R800 to start my business. I chose to rather risk it,” Lekomamyane told Business Insider South Africa.
“Everything I do, I do for my daughter. I want to give her the things that were never afforded to me.”
Lekomamyane started selling first at the MTN taxi rank in the CBD, before opening-up other locations at the Bree taxi rand, Standard Bank corner and most recently at the SABC studios in Auckland Park.
He usually tries to spend between three and four weeks at a location, building relationships with clients, before he hires someone to man the location when he moves on to start the next one.
“After a few weeks, the customers know me and know my offering; they trust what I am selling so I don’t have to be around anymore,” Lekomamyane says.
He and his business partner sleep everyday between 13:00 - 20:00, to start making sandwiches at 20:00 to 03:00, and start selling the sandwiches by 04:00 until 10:00 when he heads to the shops to go buy supplies for the next day.
Lekomamyane drops all his sellers in his small car every morning before 04:00, and twice a week he goes to the bank to deposit the money he made.
All of the sandwiches are handmade in the kitchen of his Newtown house and Lekomamyane calculated that he makes between 80 to 100% profit on all the sandwiches sold.
Lekomamyane says he specifically chose to sell sandwiches because it wasn’t available on the streets, and only sold in upmarket cafe’s. “The market was under served,” he says.
He has been sharing his business journey on Twitter where he has received a lot of praise, but says most of his clients do not find him through Twitter as they likely do not have social media.
Lekomamyane, who grew up in Johannesburg and was unable to study further after matric, says he has experienced a lot of difficulties starting his business.
“When we started, the private security confiscated our sandwiches and we had to pay R700 to start renting a location at the taxi rank.”
“The metro police is also giving us a lot of trouble, asking us to move locations frequently.”
Lekomamyane says his big dream is to start a chain of shops across South Africa, and food trucks that can be positioned at events where people can buy his food.
“Maybe over a 100 coffee shop locations. When I get tired in, especially in the late morning, I think to myself that I am not where I want to be yet, and I keep pushing forward.”