For sausage maker Hilton Rivombo, every milestone, however small, is worthy of celebration. Rivombo considers milestones such as successfully smoking his first sausage, making his first delivery, and getting his first client, as small steps towards his vision of building the best sausage brand in the country. Rivombo’s journey to establishing The Sauce Age in Jeppestown, Johannesburg, in 2019 started when he became fed up with working a nine-to-five job.
He explained to Vutivi News that he worked for nine months after graduating from the University of Johannesburg as an engineer, but quit because he felt like he was not being challenged enough in the workplace. He also said that he was not learning enough. “I love learning and being challenged, and I felt like I was not getting that at a normal job, so I recruited my cousin and together we opened a butchery in 2019 in Mozambique,” he said.
“However, the butchery failed because it was difficult to conduct business in Mozambique.” Rivombo told Vutivi News that he learned that customers were suspicious about the ingredients in sausages, so he decided to start making them allay their fears. He built his first smoker from brick and mortar from the skills he learned at university. His first sausage was called the Babalaaz sausage. “I called it the Babalaaz sausage because people suffering from hangovers have an affinity for spicy and hot food,” he explained.
Currently, they make boerewors, smoked sausages, cheese grillers, plain russians, smoked russians, and jalapeno and cheese russians. He hires family and friends as casual workers and supplies his products in areas like Soweto, Kempton Park, Cosmo City, Roodepoort, Randburg and Germiston. On the challenges to his business, Rivombo said that load-shedding topped the list, describing it as debilitating. “I work with meat and it has to remain refrigerated, and not having electricity badly affects our production schedule,” he said.
“Sometimes I would wake up, drive to work and not do anything because of the load-shedding, which leaves me with a pile of work which I cannot catch up to because there is no electricity.” Rivombo rejected the notion of compensation from the government, instead of saying the state should effectively deal with the power crisis. He also that “not everybody can afford to harness solar energy or other alternative forms of energy”.
In the future, Rivombo plans on tapping into other provinces and even southern Africa. “I already have clients requesting to redistribute my products in other countries and I am only hindered by my production capacity,” he said. “This won’t stop me from making a name for myself as a big sausage brand in the region.”