When Itumeleng Sibilanga and Tshepiso Rantho met, they did not foresee that they will end up starting a spice business together. The pair worked for a kitchenware direct marketing company and hit it off immediately.
Rantho, who hails from Rustenberg in North West, says their shared love of working in the kitchen is the seed where the business was planted.
“We had a common love for cooking and for some odd reason, we always complained about the spices that we used. We would say things like ‘this spice would be so perfect if it had a little more fennel or if it had a little more cumin’.”
They started experimenting with spices together, and in 2017 released their first spice under Sirat Spices and Sauces. Their first spice was meant for meat, and soon after, they ventured into sauces and relishes as well.
When making their spices, Rantho says they start with “base” spices. She explains that they blend various spices together to create certain flavours, but that their sauces and relishes are cooked from scratch.
“We cut, we blend, we cook and package. So, most of our products are made from a primary level and we also package. We sit there for hours packaging so it takes about two days to prepare products for at least a week.”
Like any business, Sirat Spices and Sauces has its own challenges. At the moment they do not have sufficient infrastructure, Rantho explains. They work from under a gazebo, which challenges their operations. “For example, if it rains, you can’t work. If it’s too windy, you cannot work.”
It’s not all bad though, Rantho adds. For her, one of the most rewarding aspects of the business is being able to interact with their customers and clients directly.
“We are still a small business. We are able to have an intimate connection with our clients, which makes it easier for us to attend to the concerns that our clients may have. So, our relationship with our clients can always be prioritised. I think that’s the best part of it.”
Rantho says her and Sibilanga are synergised, which makes working together worth any challenge. “[We are] feeding off each other’s positive energy. So, when one is down and the other one is up, at least you know one lifts up the other one.”
Rantho has the following tips for aspiring agripreneurs:
Have a business plan
This will help you when you get lost and frustrated in your business. So, it’s basically your map to guide you to the right road when you get lost.
Do your research
[Use] Google or YouTube [to find] ways to improve your business. No one is too smart to learn something new.
Look for opportunity
Knock on every door of any of opportunity. It may seem very discouraging sometimes, especially when these doors keep getting closed, but keep knocking until the right door opens.
Don’t overwork yourself. You will burn out and you will be stuck. You will be frustrated, so you need to rest. You cannot work seven days a week. Work the six days a week when you start out and then push it to five days a week, so you can give your mind time to grow, to rest, so that you can have more creativity.
Passion is everything
You cannot simply want to do a certain business because somebody else is doing well in it. You have to find out if is this truly your passion. And if it is your passion, always find ways to ignite or reignite that passion if it dies out.
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