Executive Insights

Meet the bread king of Soweto, who turned a side hustle into a 25-employee business

Business Insider SA
Refiloe Rantakoe, Borotho Bakery
Refiloe Rantakoe founder of Borotho Bakery in Soweto. Twitter
  • Refiloe Rantakoe started selling goods from the age of eight in order to help his family.
  • That taught him to hustle. So when he saw a gap in his community caused by rising bread prices, he was ready to step in.
  • Now, thanks to his Borotho Bakery in Jabavu, Soweto, he is known as the Bread King.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Refiloe Rantakoe started selling at the age of eight, not out of any passion for business, but to help out his family living in Jabavu, Soweto. So he hustled, and he didn't stop hustling.

"When I finished matric in 2008, I didn't have the drive to go to university, but I got a Bidvest learnership and I took it," he tells Business Insider South Africa. 

That decision saw him work in travel for five years before going into business full-time – but he was never just a salaried employee.

"Even while working for Bidvest I would have side-hustles, selling shirts," he says.

And though he didn't like the corporate environment much, it provided a consistent stream of income that allowed him to pursue his various other projects.

Refiloe Rantakoe, Borotho Bakery
Refiloe Rantakoe started his business after bread prices went up twice in 2016. Twitter

In 2016 the price of bread went up twice. Rantakoe started talking to various business people in his township, including those selling kotas, to find out how this would affect their businesses.

That was when Borotho Bakery was born. The bakery's name literally translates to simply "bread" in Sotho, and that is deliberate.

"I wanted a name people could relate to, nothing fancy, I wanted it to be direct," Rantakoe says.

While trying to secure funding, Rantakoe started advertising the bakery, without having a single product to sell.

At the end of 2016 he secured a R50,000 bank loan, and set up a fully equipped bakery in a backroom of his grandmother's house, producing 20 loaves a day.

"I knew nothing about baking bread then," he admits, "but I do now."

Rantakoe kept his day job a little longer in order to service his loan and keep the business going. But by 2017 orders ran to 100 loaves a day, and the side project started to look more like a business.

Refiloe Rantakoe, Borotho Bakery
Refiloe Rantakoe is proud to be able to employ people in his community. Twitter

Growth meant swapping the  back room for a 6-meter container, situated in front of the house, with a total staff compliment of 25. With orders now hitting 500 loaves a day, another, bigger space may be called for soon.

As of May, a group of 10 new employees sell bread across Soweto out of  shopping trolleys. The bakery now also sells scones, burger buns, and hotdog rolls.

The next dream, Rantakoe says, is to go national.

Receive a daily update on your cellphone with all our latest news: click here.

Get the best of our site emailed to you daily: click here.

Also from Business Insider South Africa:

Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo