14 Jun 2022 by

Boitumelo Pico, D500 Kitchen

Meet 32-year-old Boitumelo Pico, owner of D500 Kitchen, a chicken and fish-and-chips establishment based in Utlwanang in North West province, which is one of the youth-owned businesses funded and supported by sefa.

Boitumelo Pico, D500 Kitchen

1. Tell us about your business and how it is making a difference in your community or township?

“Before I started D500 Kitchen, there was no business like it in Utlwanang township. People had to go to Geluksoord to buy the same items I now have available at D500 Kitchen. Therefore, my business is making a difference and contributing to the [quality of life of the] people of Utlwanang by offering ready-to-eat chicken and fish and chips at a place that is near and convenient for them.

“I also employ two other young people in the establishment – a cook who helps me prepare the meals we sell and a driver who does our deliveries in both Utlwanang and Geluksoord.”

2. What are your biggest challenges as a young and upcoming entrepreneur?

“My biggest challenge is food prices that fluctuate every two to three months. This means I also have to adjust my prices at D500 Kitchen. Consequently, customers can lose trust in my business because my prices aren’t consistent for very long.

“My other challenge is having the financial means to invest time and profits back into the business so that we can improve operations to be as smooth as possible and give our customers the best service possible.”

3. How has the funding and/or other resources from sefa contributed to the success of your business? Did you face any challenges?

“sefa helped me buy some of the equipment I use in my business – equipment that would have taken me years to save up for and buy myself. This has made a huge impact on how I conduct and run the business, including getting orders to my customers quickly and on time. The quick turnaround of our services has also brought more customers to us.

“As far as funding and resources are concerned, I had a very good experience with sefa when I applied for funding. The agency’s lines of communication were open to me every step of the way, even though the process took longer than anticipated.

“I only experienced problems or delays related to my equipment service providers, but overall sefa was very good to me during the process of funding my business venture.”

4. Is there a crucial need for entities such as sefa in building our economy? If so, why is that?

“Yes, there’s definitely a need for such entities. We need entities such as sefa so that young and upcoming entrepreneurs like myself can gain access to funding to develop their businesses and create more jobs in our townships and communities.”

5. June marks Youth Month in South Africa. How can public and private institutions support the youth to start their own businesses?

“They can help the youth by making people more aware of their service offerings, or by offering resources that the youth can access to start their own businesses.

“Most importantly, entities such as sefa and others need to find ways of making sure this information [resources, programmes, funding] reaches people in rural areas and townships, and not only people in big cities.”

6. Do you employ any young people in your business? How has this changed their lives?

“Yes, I employ two young people in my business, a young man and a young woman. Both earn a weekly commission and get a salary at the end of the month, which I believe makes a positive contribution to their lives and those of their families.”

7. How have your priorities changed from when you first started your business?

“My priorities have shifted quite a bit since I opened my business. I want to create something good for my community. I dream of creating a soccer tournament that would bring together soccer teams from my community and neighbouring township areas to compete.

“Such an initiative would keep the youth busy and off the streets. On the side, during the tournament, I would also promote and sell my food.”

8. What advice can you give to young people who wish to start their own businesses?

“My advice is to start now – do not wait for funding, make do with what you have. Don't wait for the perfect time, because there’s no such thing as the perfect time. So, get up and do it now.”

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