By: Tebogo Mokwena
When Thulisile Thokoane was a child, she wanted to be a lawyer or a soldier because she believed it was the best way to serve South Africans. However, when she became an entrepreneur and a baker, she found that she was able to contribute more to her community by providing them with their daily bread. Her bakery, Baphumelele Bakery, is now competing with bakeries she grew up admiring and buying from, and she relishes the challenge.
According to Thokoane, the idea for the bakery came when she was living in Vanderbijlpark in Emfuleni with her husband and they came across a bakery. “I was fascinated by how the bakery operated and what it takes for a bakery to run smoothly,” she said. “With my husband’s support, we conducted research, bought the machinery and equipment and started the business early last year.” The business is in Thokoza in Ekurhuleni. It supplies bread to Kota businesses in Thokoza and Katlehong as well as spaza shops.
The bakery also has a walk-in service for locals to buy their bread. Thokoane told Vutivi News that it was a bit of a challenge to convince many of the businesses to buy her bread. “When I started out, I baked a lot of loaves and started approaching the shops one by one,” she said. “I gave them free samples of my bread, invited them to try my bread out and left them with my business card. “It wasn’t long before I started getting orders from the businesses around the township.”
Thokoane also makes her money from supplying Kota businesses, which are increasing day by day. “When one Kota business closes, two or three pop up in their place,” she said. “I’m also competing with businesses that have been providing bead to our township for as long as I have been alive, and I find it such a challenge that they are able to keep their prices the same even though food prices are increasing.” Thokoane believes that her customer service is the reason why people keep coming back.
“My customers are more than just customers, but they’re friends, family, and community members that I have grown to know and love,” she told Vutivi News. “My aim is for me to open more bakeries and have franchises so that I can reach more communities and employ more people.”