Thando Makhubu (30), who owns Soweto Creamery, says he started the business in August 2020 with money saved from a government Social Relief of Distress Grant.
He and millions of others received the R350 monthly grant paid from April 2020 to unemployed people and people who had lost their income sources as a result of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The grant was recently extended by President Cyril Ramaphosa to March next year.
Makhubu, who received his first payment in May 2020, says he used it to assist at home, but managed to save the next two payments.
“I used the R700 to buy five-litres of ice cream, chocolates, cookies, sprinkles and lollies to create what I called ‘Chocolate Overload’. I took pictures and uploaded them onto my WhatsApp status. Within no time, friends and family had snapped them up,” says Makhubu.
The entrepreneur says social media played a huge role in boosting his business.
A fashion design graduate, Makhubu was running an events photography business in 2020 when the lockdown was announced. He says with events no longer taking place, he was forced to apply for the grant.
The manner in which Makhubu used his R350 earned him a mention from President Ramaphosa during this year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) in February. President Ramaphosa commended his innovation.
“Since the onset of COVID-19, the SRD Grant of Distress Grant has provided support to more than 10 million unemployed people who were most vulnerable to the impact of the pandemic.
“Some people used that money to start businesses. Thando Makhubu from Soweto received the R350 grant for seven months last year, and saved it to open an ice cream store that now employs four people.”
Makhubu says that he missed the live SONA, because he was at gym at the time. “After gym, I opened my phone and I had messages and missed calls from countless people. Once I had a picture of what was happening, I watched the SONA online and I kept replaying the part about me,” he says.
How to apply for the SRD grant
The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) administers the grant.
Applications can be made via the:
• SASSA website: https://srd.sassa.gov.za.
• WhatsApp line: 082 046 8553.
• USSD line: *134*7737#