Moringa, cancer bush, sea moss… As if the flavours aren’t enough to make Andile Sasanti’s yoghurts stand out from the rest, they are vegan too, unsweetened and free from artificial additives. It comes as no surprise then, that he founded his business, Well ‘N Well Yoghurt, according to values such as innovation, difference, exclusivity and simplicity.
Born in Soweto in Gauteng, Sasanti has been mapping out his entrepreneurial journey since 2012. While many business people highlight their entrepreneurial spirit as something they have always had, Sasanti says that it’s a skills set he has had to learn.
“I’m not one of these entrepreneurs who … has this strange story [where] I started selling sweets in school when I was five. No, I did not start there. [This is] something that I learned as I finished school.”
In 2017, Sasanti made vegetable smoothies for his late mother to help remedy her chronic illnesses. He says that he was unemployed at the time, so he was also often at the library.
“You know when you’re unemployed, you have enough time to visit the library. So I did. There were webinars that took place online, hosted by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Technology and Agriculture in Kenya, which I attended. There were webinars on fermented products that were conducted by lead researchers. The fermented products were your yoghurts, your kombucha, your kimchi and fermented products in general.”
Journey into agripreneurship
That is when Sasanti decided to try his hand at producing yoghurts. “Yoghurt is much more common, so I decided to experiment at home until I got it right.”
Sasanti broadened his experiments to include the use of vegetables, not only because of the healthy smoothies he had made for his late mother, but for his own health too. “In 2017, I was diagnosed with hypertension. You know, when you are diagnosed with hypertension, you are told that you’re going to be on medication for the rest of your life. And so, I had to do some sort of self-introspection.”
Officially, Well ‘N Well Yoghurt was launched in 2018. However, Sasanti had started putting the business together the year before. “[When I lived in the East Rand], I started pushing the products door to door. Then I moved from the East Rand to Soweto, and that’s where we also continued [pushing] the product door to door, at taxi ranks, Joburg CBD, you name it.”
Right now, Sasanti is set on incorporating more traditional elements into his products. He wants to break down the stigma around traditional herbs and herbalists, and is intent on doing so through Well ‘N Well Yoghurt.
“Indigenous herbalists are associated with negativity. [People think] that they’re dirty or there’s witchcraft. We are going to [make them] mainstream. We’re going to hold their hands and we will allow them to guide us publicly. We want to make that fashionable, because these are herbs that we’ve used for centuries.”
For entrepreneurs who want to set themselves apart, Sasanti has five important tips:
1. Be curious
Curiosity worked wonders for me, because whenever you are curious, you want to know how things work … and why things are how they are. You question yourself instead of accepting things the way they are. You get to understand what the problem is and it brings you closer to what the solution could be.
I’m still persevering because I’ve not reached [the place] where I’m going. There’s a difference between a destination and a journey. For us, this is a journey, it’s not a destination. Once we think it is a destination, we would have the arrogance [to think] we’ve arrived. No, it’s a journey. We are still headed where we are headed. Even though things are not happening according to you or your standard or your wishes or your prayers, you [must] persevere for things to happen.
Reading helps a lot. First of all, you cannot persevere just because. You need understanding. This is a lonely journey. Most of society lives a normal life, and you are outside that normal societal life. You need to align yourself with people who have been there; people who understand what you’re going through – not through them being there to tell you that, but through them telling you their stories through their books.
When you buy a book … you are paying for a shortcut. If something was going to take me 10 years to [learn], I’ve avoided those 10 years by just paying a mere R100, R200. Information is key.
I am an action man. I take action because executing is important. If you don’t execute, you will forever plan, plan, plan. Action is important because [it] allows you to know where the flaws [in your business] are. As entrepreneurs, we learn from our experiences.
5. Be different
Stand out from the rest, even if you are not that different. For example, I manufacture yoghurts but it’s not to say that I’m the only guy who manufactures yoghurt. No, yoghurts have been there for centuries. But we have come up with a unique way of manufacturing yoghurt. Identify the uniqueness or the difference that you have. If you feel that you are the same, try and research more. Go the extra mile for you to stand out.
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