Selling food and success

 

Co-founder of Bra Wor's food outlet Thabo George  serving customers at Constitutional HillCo-founder of Bra Wor's food outlet Thabo George serving customers at Constitutional Hill

NO, Bra Wor is not the name of a gangster-looking brother operating from a dodgy corner in some township; rather, it is a food outlet that serves lawyers and judges on the Constitution Hill.

Every Wednesday, Constitutional Court employees and other Hill staff come back for more of Bra Wor's tasty food. The cheapest meal is R20, while the most expensive is R50.

Lwando Xasa, one of the satisfied customers, says that since the food area started operating, she has been coming back every Wednesday to get more of the kasi meals.

Another, Claire Avidon, notes: "Another thing that sets them apart from your Woolworths and other food outlets is that they are always willing to take suggestions."

The court's Justice Edwin Cameron is also said to be a regular at Bra Wor. Its meat is spiced, marinated and then braaied before it is served with porridge or a roll and a number of salads and gravy.

In addition to its spot on Constitution Hill in Braamfontein on Wednesdays, Bra Wor is at Sunnyside Park in Houghton on Mondays, and at Wits University on Fridays. And the owners have added catering to their repertoire. They cater for school tours at the court every Saturday, and they are looking to expand in this area.

The fast food corner was started this year by friends Sekhabile Lekgoate and Thabo George. The place is different from a conventional fast food outlet in that it provides a shisanyama experience to those who have never been to one.

Lekgoate, who is the mastermind behind the venture, says he is surprised he ended up in the food business. Despite his keen interest in food while growing up, he thought he would become a mechanical engineer or a construction manager.

Engineer

He finished high school in 2005, and the following year studied mechanical engineering at Tshwane University of Technology. After his first year, he was offered a scholarship by Group Five, the construction company.

Co-founder of the Bra Wor's fast food corner Sekhabile LekgoateCo-founder of the Bra Wor's fast food corner Sekhabile Lekgoate

He dropped out of mechanical engineering to study construction management. From 2008 to May 2010, he was a junior foreman at the company.

"I decided to resign because I felt like my growth as a person and a professional was restricted," he explains. Armed with nothing but ideas, Lekgoate joined forces with a friend and started a tuck-shop that also operated as an internet café.

But his co-founder was offered a job and left. The workload became too much for Lekgoate to manage on his own, and he decided to close shop.

Not long after closing down his business, he heard about the Awethu Project on the radio. The project was looking to partner with and mentor young entrepreneurs from under-resourced communities. He decided to try it out.

It was a good decision: today he employs two people in his business and is looking at hiring a third person.

Other young entrepreneurs who have benefitted from Awethu Project are Lesika Matlou, who started a tour operating company in Soweto called Ek Sê. Another is Chris Pienaar, the founder of Straight to your Door, which sells bread door-to-door in Alexandra.

Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) a development agency for the City of Johannesburg has hailed the Awethu Project as a valuable initiative for youth. "As the JDA we fully endorse what Awethu is doing," the agency's marketing manager, Susan Monyai said. "This initiative allows young entrepreneurs an opportunity to do something more with their lives, and not end up on the streets. It also enables them to contribute positively towards our economy."

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