The restaurant market still hungers for healthy options. This entrepreneur is feeding that need, serving earth-conscious customers and gym junkies.
Her desperation for a healthy meal fueled the fire for business.
Leigh Klapthor, 31, couldn’t find enough eateries that sold healthy food that was not bland, so decided to start her own.
“It is no fun to go out with friends and you are always the girl with the green salad,” she says.
“I wanted to find a way where being healthy is not such a chore and I also wanted for it to be affordable.”
Klapthor, who dropped out of a course in marketing communications at the University of Johannesburg, ditched a job in corporate marketing to pursue her passion for food.
In 2017, she started Sprout Café at the Stoneridge Centre in Edenvale in Johannesburg with a loan she received from her husband’s business and money that was given to them as a wedding gift.
“Everybody underestimates what everything will end up costing [when starting a new business]. In my mind, I thought R150,000 ($10,588) would work. I thought I would get my shop fitting and everything done and in the first month we would be able to pay salaries with the money we make,” says Klapthor.
But she soon realized the unforeseen challenges faced by many entrepreneurs. She had to eventually pump in a capital of R350,000 ($24,706) to start the venture.
“So I had a couple of life lessons at the beginning. I had to end up using our savings but I didn’t mind having to do that because I trusted and believed in the vision.”
But though she did, the banks did not because they often declined all her loan applications.
“I think there are so many young black and enthusiastic individuals that have brilliant ideas and vision but the investment capital is not there. Though I do not have the capital as well to assist them, I would say keep going because the vision is greater,” Klapthor says.
Sprout Café offers health food, light meals, vegan food, and vegetarian and ketogenic diet food.
With her corporate marketing skills, she advertised her food on social media and gained a lot of traction.
“I want to create food on Instagram and people are like, ‘oh my God, I want to eat that’ and when they come into the store, it is the same deliverable they receive,” she says.
Sprout Café turns over R3 million ($211,677) annually and has 10 employees.
After only two years of business, she has recently opened a second branch in the heart of the busy Moove Motion Fitness Club in Sunninghill in Johannesburg.
“There are people that are on specific diets and there is no one that is giving these people food. There is no one that is saying, vegan people want to be healthy too. They are making a conscious decision to preserve the environment and preserve their health and they are making these decisions but there is no one that is there to accommodate them.”
Klapthor says that the world is moving towards a plant-based lifestyle and she believes that many have recently caught on to that idea recently.
Trend translator Bronwyn Williams of Flux Trends, reiterates Klapthor’s views on how the world is adopting healthier habits. She believes that Generation Z is choosing good, clean fun the most.
“Yes, South Africa is not exempt from the global movement towards more locally-sourced and earth-friendly products and packaging,” Williams says.
However, Williams believes that because 64.2% of the South African population still lives in poverty, clean and organic food still remains costly for the majority of people.
“That said, unfortunately, earth-friendly consumer options remain a luxury that only the upper middle class can really afford to support and enjoy… certified organic, eco-friendly products tend to cost far more—up to 40% more than ‘regular’ packaged produce, it would be disingenuous to say that what the market wants is locally-sourced, earth-first produce when the majority of South Africans are struggling just to put any food on the table,” Williams says.
Though Klapthor knows more people are opening healthy-eating establishments because they see that it is a trend, she believes that they need to be in touch with the reality of an ordinary person’s life and consider the cost implications.
“You can’t charge someone R150 ($10.59) for a Beyond Meat burger and expect her to come back tomorrow for the same burger. People are tight with their money and they work hard for it, they do not want to let go, for instance, of R500 ($35.29) in three days,” Klapthor says.
“We want to provide a healthy lifestyle, something that is consistent and that people can live through, and not just a treat-themselves-to at the end of the month. Every day, you should be able to eat a Sprout meal without having to feel any kind of guilt and shame.”
Obviously, it is a concept that has worked and keeps her business healthy as well.
[IN NUMBERS] Coronavirus Update: COVID-19 In Africa
While most cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus have been reported in the U.S. , Europe, and China, the virus is spreading rapidly across the African continent.
The confirmed worldwide cases for the virus have surpassed 11 million with the current figure being at 12,415,672.
The increase in new reported cases around the world has led the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the coronavirus a global pandemic.
The death toll continues to rise globally. It is currently at 557,925.
The U.S. leads with 135,828 deaths. Brazil is second with 69,254. The U.K is third with 44,602. Italy is fourth with 34,926, and Mexico is fifth with 33,526.
China, where the virus originated from, maintains that the country’s death toll is at 4,634.
The figure of the global recoveries stands at 7,241,644.
The African continent has 545,313 cases of Covid-19, while the death toll stands at 12,503. The continent has made 266,082 recoveries.
Here are the numbers in Africa:
|Country||Confirmed Cases||Confirmed Deaths||Confirmed Recoveries|
|Cabo Verde (Cape Verde)||750||6||301|
|Central African Republic (CAR)||2,222||7||369|
|Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)||9,702||68||4,381|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)||7,189||176||2,317|
|Eswatini (formerly Swaziland)||490||4||249|
|Sao Tome and Principe||661||12||177|
Note: The numbers will be updated as new information is available.
Empty Roads, Occupied Minds
With a deadly virus still lurking in the streets and tougher times ahead, traders in South Africa’s colorful townships desperately look to resuscitate their businesses with creative offerings online.
It’s almost two months into lockdown in South Africa and the country’s townships, once bustling hubs of trade, are slowly bracing themselves, with every ounce of willpower left in them, for the unprecedented reality that is ‘the new normal’.
For many, the national shutdown and closed shutters have meant lost jobs, stalled incomes and empty pockets, not to mention a deadly virus stalking them in every street and alley. The small entrepreneurs here – the lifeblood of any economy – now on their last pennies, are still hopeful their re-evaluated strategies and revamped resilience will see them through this fearful nightmare, as the restrictions ease and the townships will slowly crawl back to life again.
Behind the respectful veneer of the lockdown, some of the smaller traders hustle on illegally, under the radar, dodging police patrols and armed surveillance. They have no choice but to stick to their street-smart ways, to survive and feed their families.
In the township of Soweto, bigger, popular establishments such as The Box Shop on Vilakazi Street – the historic stretch home to Nobel Peace Prize winners Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the country’s former President Nelson Mandela – are looking to the future with great uncertainty, and have been forced to devise alternative digital strategies as lifelines for the present.
Sifiso Moyo founded The Box Shop, a lifestyle and retail outlet with his business partner, Bernard Msimango, and today, the street it’s located on, which attracted thousands of local and international tourists every day prior to the pandemic, is eerily quiet.
It will be a while until planes of international visitors land again, so the duo have chosen to go to them – online.
“For The Box Shop, we built hype around online and have taken the entire offering that existed in our physical infrastructure into a digital platform and that has made us into an innovation space, giving us access to a global audience. We are beginning to see our products being sold in places like Switzerland and the United Kingdom and we now have started harnessing partnerships,” says Moyo.
The website was launched in May, but the bigger vision for the entity was to start as a retail outlet and work backwards into the manufacturing space.
Moyo says the coronavirus taught them two things – to adapt digitally, and to work in the value chain.
The shop now also makes face masks, sold to public hospitals and NGOs.
A short drive from Vilakazi Street is a restaurant named Sancho, selling African cuisine and founded by Thato Mothopeng, a serial entrepreneur who also founded the popular annual Soweto Camp Festival.
Mothopeng is one of the few entrepreneurs in the tourism sector without a formal degree or training, but has had a roaring business nevertheless and is quite well-known in the circuit.
Mothopeng says all SMMEs are at a standstill because business thrives on human contact. But business also needs to be flexible, he adds.
“There are opportunities in the harshest environments. I am using this time to review my strategies. I am also not panicking because the country is managing the crisis; this is an opportunity for SMMEs to reflect because our people are sober now.”
He had to let go of a few employees and is working remotely.
Further in the township of Soweto, Thembeka Nkosi, the founder of Le Salon, has also developed her own coping mechanisms.
Her shop is shut, but people still seek her grooming advice. As per South Africa’s Level 4 lockdown restrictions, salons and beauty parlors are not allowed to operate.
“This [lockdown] is very stressful, more especially now because other businesses are operating. I still can’t make money, I still have to stay at home and not work,” rues Nkosi.
In addition to getting to spend more time with her five-year-old son, she has recently started sharing her haircare tutorials on social media.
“Now that shops are open to buy hair products, I send video clips to my clients and that brings me joy, knowing that I am still useful to them; even though it’s not making me any money yet, at least I am interacting with my clients,” she says, looking at the bright side.
Ronewa Creations is yet another small business in these parts.
Founded by Lesego Seloane and Dinah Kgeledi, the business offers landscaping services, garden maintenance and water harvesting solutions, and employs seven full-time workers. None of these services are allowed in the current phase of lockdown.
“Now that our province is still on Level 4, it is really difficult to focus because when we were working out our plans, there was so much uncertainty and we didn’t know how they could actually be implemented,” says Seloane.
She is grateful the duo have been active on social media, running a garden makeover campaign and offering landscaping designs for free.
“We are using a three-dimensional technology that revamps the look of gardens to give people an idea of how their gardens could potentially look like in the end.”
Despite the challenges, the two keep sane by spending time with family.
“If the business fails, I fail. If I don’t come out of my down moment quick, then I will fail and the entire organization fails,” says Seloane.
You can detect the determination in her voice to overcome this period, come what may.
Like many around her staring fear in the face, she has no other choice.
This Single Factor Could Force Another Coronavirus Shutdown, Goldman Sachs Says
With new coronavirus cases rising in 26 states, according to data from Johns Hopkins, and the national conversation turning to whether those states rushed to reopen their economies too quickly, new analysis from Goldman Sachs suggests that in the coming weeks, hospital capacity (rather than case numbers) is the factor most likely to prompt another lockdown.
- Goldman’s experts say hospital data is a more reliable picture of the spread of the virus nationwide than positive test results, which fluctuate with changes in testing trends.
- The analysts noted, however, that “there is probably a high hurdle for states to reinstate lockdowns.”
- As new cases continue to rise across the country, Goldman’s analysts also tracked which states currently meet federal reopening criteria based on four factors: symptoms, cases, testing and hospitalizations and fatalities.
- Only Arizona and Alabama fail in all four categories, the analysts say; symptoms and cases are on the rise, positive test rates are high, and hospitals are nearing their maximum capacities.
- On the other hand, 19 states meet all four criteria for reopening, including several former hot spots like New York and New Jersey, and the vast majority of states meet at least three out of the four criteria.
Along with Alabama and Arizona, California, Texas, and Florida have also seen sharp upticks in infections in recent days. Florida reported a record increase in new cases on four out of the six days between June 15 and 20, for instance. The number of confirmed cases since the pandemic started has now swelled to over 100,000, and Gov. Ron DeSantis said the uptick is “clearly” the result of a failure to follow social distancing guidelines. With cases on the rise, some places—like Arizona—are forging ahead with reopening plans while others—in Maine, Oregon, and Kansas, for instance—are tightening up restrictions again.
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