An idea Gontse Selaocoe never thought would flourish, made him leave street dancing to focus on producing jam. He worked hard on becoming a force to be reckoned with and he has succeeded with flying colours.
This agro-processor based in Orange farm in Gauteng believes nothing is impossible and an idea can come from where you least expect it. He says it takes courage and resilience to conquer it all.
Selaocoe, the owner of All Day Jam Company, started to develop business ideas while he was still in high school following a competition he entered. Though he did not win, the concept remained with him.
“While I was in grade 11, I entered a competition called Step Up to Start Up. This is when entrepreneurship was really harnessed after many years of denial.
“During the course of the competition, we were made to watch movies on how to become an entrepreneur, the pros and cons of starting a business,” he says.
Selaocoe explains that he developed a cone made from recycling materials, and when the cone was burnt, its smog had the ability to kill mosquitos. However, his idea did not win the competition.
“After finishing high school, I decided that the lessons and ideas learned during the competition needed to be nourished. I then went to study farming and food processing at Green Business College.
Formal education vs dancing career
“At that time, I had a lot of thinking to do. I wondered if I should go and become a street dancer or go study business. I decided to go study because I could not see sustainability in dancing.”
He says the exposure he got from the college reminded him of his early years when he used to be taken to the food garden by his grandparents to do some chores during the school holidays.
“At that time, all you want to do as a child is to play. We saw working in the food garden as abuse, not knowing that years later I would be farming.
“At the college, we were taught about organic farming and food processing. I then remembered how when we grow up, we used to be given jam which was very nice because of its sweetness. I then decided that I want to start a jam processing initiative.”
To give him more exposure, Selaocoe went to Gauteng Innovation Hub, where he received intense training on business, entrepreneurship, and how to commercialise businesses.
“What is special about All Day Jam is that we have unique flavours that are found in retail stores, and we farm our own raw materials like jam tomato and yellow melon. So that makes our jam unique,” he says.
Mixing dancing and farming
Selaocoe expresses that he did not dump his dancing life and thought of how to integrate dance and selling jam.
“I have seen that I love the two, so I have decided that some of the resellers become the guys who dance. They can dance while selling the product and get commission on that.”
It has not been an easy journey for Selaocoe as he is currently in the process of getting a lease agreement with the municipality for the land where he farms, which is taking longer than expected.
“When you are in the agro-processing space there are a lot of processes and steps that you cannot do without. I struggled with getting equipment and getting my product tested but ultimately I managed to break through.”
SEDA, his saving grace
Selaocoe says the South African Development Agency (SEDA) came through for him with training on critical elements of his agro-processing operations.
“One thing I would say is that operating a business requires intense training, which I should say I am fortunate that SEDA and Innovation Hub provided me with training in key things that I needed to ensure that I operate a successful entity.
“I received training in food safety, quality management systems, and exporting.
“I also received training in soil testing and preparations before we can farm our raw materials, we need to know which materials are needed in the soil,” he explains.
Expanding his markets
His market is retail stores, restaurants, and hotels, and he plans to expand his business.
“Currently we supply Imbewu produce, Tap and Crock, and we also have resellers. We are in the process of getting our product out there throughout the country.”
Selaocoe says his dream is to export throughout Africa and the world as well as have a bigger space in an industrial area which will help create jobs.
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