×

We've got news for you.

Register on SowetanLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Corn snacks a winner with customers

Business dream comes true

The trio initially produced atchar but market share barriers forced them to abandon the project, despite being well-received by the community.
The trio initially produced atchar but market share barriers forced them to abandon the project, despite being well-received by the community.
Image: 123RF/ANDRIY POPOV

A trio with a passion for food are making inroads with their fast-moving consumer goods start-up business, Lefelo Foods.

The business, which was founded by Lesedi Tshabalala, Mbongeni Fakude and Tsholofelo Mongwenyane from Braamfischerville, Soweto, in 2022, produces Ama Shwam Shwam puffs. Puffs are extruded corn snacks made with corn meal, and can be baked or fried.

“Mbongeni, Tsholofelo and I love food. We like to experiment with food,” Tshabalala told Vuk'uzenzele. 

The trio initially produced atchar but market share barriers forced them to abandon the project, despite being well-received by the community. 

“We wanted to take the normal staple food that we eat in the township and enhance it with an extra touch and improve on it. We had three flavours of atchar – lemon lime zest, sweet chilli and tomato-floured atchar,” said Tshabalala, a final year strategic management degree student. 

After ditching this start-up, the concept of Ama Shwam Shwam was born.

“We see and eat these things when we grow up, but we don’t know where they come from. We barely ever see black people in this manufacturing space, they only work there. That’s how we started to develop Ama Shwam Shwam.

“We eventually got our first batch of packaging in July, and we also managed to make our first batch through the help of other suppliers. Even when we launched, it was a very soft launch. People where we lived knew about it and the response was phenomenal,” he said. 

While the business does not have permanent staff, part-time employees are roped in on a needs basis. 

“We rotate between two and five people,” he said. “We are hoping to create a minimum of 10 permanent jobs as our production needs increase.”

The self-taught manufacturer said financing the initiative had proved to be the most difficult part of the journey. “Until now, we have financed this purely from our own pockets. The sad thing is that, with what we are doing, the barriers to entry are very high and complicated. We learnt the hard way when we were doing the packaging,” he said. “It’s been one long difficult journey.”

While the business has ambitions to have a footprint in major retailers across the country, its clients are to date limited to local supermarkets, tuckshops and individual resellers. 


Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.