Best of 2022: Father, son put bread on the table by feeding hungry motorists

Published Dec 31, 2022


Johannesburg – ‘Give us this day, our daily bread’: No, that is not the Lord’s Prayer but rather what Mpho Setjeo’s hungry customers say every day when they meet him at a traffic intersection in Mayberry Park, south-east of Johannesburg.

Setjeo, 44, and his son Lebo, 20, whom he employs, wake up at 3am every day to prepare the sandwiches they sell to motorists on their way to work. And their customers just can’t get enough.

He offers a variety of sandwich options, including chicken mayonnaise, ham and cheese, and even a dagwood. Prices range from R20 to R30.

“The reception has been overwhelming. There is a garage just before you get to our intersection that sells a similar breakfast product, and people have the choice to pop into that garage but they pass and come to us instead,” Setjeo says.

The graphic designer started his business, Daily Bread, in April, when jobs and commissions in his field were hard to come by. He initially started trying to sell sandwiches door to door to employees at various firms in Alrode, Alberton, close to where he resides, but found it increasingly different to gain access to many business premises.

Father and son, Mpho and Lebo Setjeo, sell fresh sandwiches at intersections daily. Picture: Supplied

Setjeo then decided to use his resources to create branding, and then advertise his roadside business start-up.

“I thought to myself, ‘I’ve got a car, I’ve got a smartphone, I’m a graphic designer, I have internet and a computer, and I have skills’. So something had to give.”

And he takes his business very seriously. Setjeo has registered the company and even invested in a point of sale machine for his customers’ convenience. In addition, he believes that the way in which he and his son present themselves plays a vital role in how their customers perceive them.

“We created a brand identity and ensure we are visible in terms of our advertising boards. In most businesses in the townships or towns, you see people selling something but you don’t know what they are selling or how much it costs. So we needed to be visible...”

“We also needed to be smartly presented as we know that most of the people who sell on the streets tend to neglect their hygiene, and that scares people,” Setjeo says.

“So, I always tell my son that we need to elevate the standard to our level. Cleanliness and presentation are of utmost importance. When leaving the house, my son knows very well that we cannot wear dirty sneakers, torn jeans, or baggy pants that expose our underwear, because before people buy the product, they have to buy into you.”

Although Setjeo’s sandwich business is thriving, there are some challenges; he has found the process to acquire his informal trading permit - without which he may find himself breaking municipal by-laws, frustrating.

“When I started in April, a few of my regular customers highlighted the need for me to have what they call an informal trader’s permit because I could find myself in trouble with the Ekurhuleni metro police department. But up to now, I have not experienced any problems.

“To avoid any issues though, I went to the municipal offices, but to this day I’m being sent from pillar to post… This kind of red tape is what prevents people from starting businesses. I understand the need for by-laws but the process is such a nightmare,” Setjeo states.

Sharing some words of wisdom for would-be entrepreneurs, he says they should not sit around waiting for employment, but let go of fear and “just start”.

“I think we tend to over-think things. Yes, do your due diligence, do your market research, and consider the risk factors, but don’t forget to start.

“The greatest risk in life is to risk nothing.”

[email protected]

IOL Business