Sobae is an exciting young culinary business with a unique approach to refreshment and healthy desserts.
This entrepreneurial venture into the world of frozen treats was founded by Thula Ndema and Mbongeni Masondo.
The pair, who also happens to be a couple and they started the company in September 2017 by selling scoops outside Arts on Main in Maboneng and on the streets of Braamfontein.
The name is a clever portmanteau of ‘sorbet’ and ‘bae’ which is a colloquialism that refers to a person’s boyfriend or girlfriend - often as a form of address.
The brand grew with the support and collaboration of other companies that saw its potential, such as RHTC, Essential Vintaj, King Kong, The Market Alley and Sowet Theatre’s Seven Colour Sundays.
SOBAE tells us about some of the challenges that come with being an emerging business in South Africa.
Customers can enjoy homemade sorbet made from 100% fruit, water and ice. The sorbet is made from overly ripe fruits to give it a natural sweetness which means it has less sugar, no preservatives,no dairy and is 100% fruits.
The flavours on their menu this September include honey and plum, pineapple and plum, blueberry and guava, blueberry and guava, strawberry and ginger, pineapple lemon and granadilla (citrus), beetroot and green apples, sweet chilli with peaches and cayenne pepper, and my favourite, chilli mango.
They’re served as a 125ml scoop, 350ml tub and a 500ml tub.
What makes it special
What makes Sobae standout is that we also make our sorbets with vegetable and herbs.
By choosing to use ripe fruit our aim is to minimize wastage.
We have seen how street vendors who sell fruit throw away fruits as soon as they turn ripe, and that’s when we started buying fruit from said vendors at cheaper rates and making healthy sorbets with them.
What does being an entrepreneur in Joburg mean to you
It means a lot to us, before we quit our jobs to fully practice being entrepreneurs we had to plan, do research and above all, save capital.
Being a job seeker is a norm in our society and when you create a brand of your own, often people don’t take you seriously because you are new to the market.
We had to prove to ourselves that we can be consistent and disciplined.
No one told us, saving up for a company will impact our lifestyle choices and when that changes you become more focused on the sustainability of your company.
Each day and season presents a learning curve.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced
It seems simple enough. Buy a truck, make good sorbet, park the truck and sell the sorbet.
It’s significantly more complicated than that.
For starters, the city of Johannesburg has its own set of regulation for a culinary business of this nature.
We must navigate a series of permits and certifications or we could be fined.
There’s a lot of red tape. On many occasions we’ve been chased away by the police, especially when we first started out in Maboneng.
But people started being more receptive to our brand and we gained loyalty - which made things easier for us.
Sobae started in the streets, but our aim is to procure a professional kitchen space to produce our products.
Start up companies like us need assistance to get to the next level; assistance like funding, mentorship, registration etc.
Open Tuesday-Sunday, 1pm – 5pm at 264 Fox street, Maboneng