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Popcorns and Waffles trader dreams big

PINI BOTHOKO
July Thamagana
FRANCISTOWN: As unemployment continues to be a major challenge to Batswana, a street vendor has turned to popcorns and waffles to earn a living.

July Thamagana (45), a native of Lentswelemoriti now based at Ntshe in Francistown wants to prove that it is possible to emulate many successful businesses that started from humble beginnings but later turned into transnational companies that have employed thousands of people around the world.

Thamagana, a street vendor in Francistown dreams to one day own his mobile restaurant which will ease him the burden of having to walk everyday in search of customers.

In an interview with The Monitor Business, Thamagana disclosed that even though it took him a while to start his business, the business took customers by storm when it started.

Thamagana said he used the skills he learnt during the seven years he worked as a night auditor at Marang Hotel and Gaborone Sun Hotel in Francistown and Gaborone respectively to start his business.

“I worked for three years at Marang Hotel and four years at Gaborone Sun. During those years I observed how popcorns and waffles were prepared and gained this knowledge. I used my own money to purchase popcorn and waffle machines from South Africa where I once saw a mobile restaurant that I am dreaming to own,” said Thamagana who holds a certificate in accounting and business studies from the University of Botswana (UB).

The father of five children said he is able to put food on the table with the money he generates from selling his wares.

“I wake up around 4am everyday to prepare my products because my target is to sell them before lunchtime,” he said.

Asked if he cooks and prepares his products on his own, Thamagana said preparing them is

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not that labour intensive because he uses machines.

Thamagana currently occupies strategic points in the streets as well as visiting offices to target customers early who prefer to drink tea or coffee with waffles.

“I sell a large packet of popcorns for P2 and a waffle goes for P3. In a day I can make a profit of P200 from popcorns and around P80 profit from waffles,” said Thamagana stating that the most expensive ingredient he uses is cooking oil.

He said other ingredients like flour, milk, eggs and vanilla mix for preparing waffles are affordable, adding that he only needs aromat spices to give his popcorns a great taste.

Thamagana said he is blessed to be staying next to Lekgaba Primary School where most of his customers are based.

He disclosed that last year he tried to get funding from the Department of Gender Affairs but his request was not successful because they were not funding the type of business he is doing.

He said his efforts to seek funding from the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) were also unsuccessful because he had no security for the loan.

Thamagana is appealing for help in order to achieve his dream of owning a mobile restaurant and diversifying a range of his products by adding milkshakes.

He said he has discovered that a lot of people are interested in doing his business because similar enterprises that were non-existent before have copied his business idea because it is profitable.

He added: “Street vendors are also buying from me in large numbers which is a sign that I am going in the right direction.”



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