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Soweto entrepreneur churns blue and white for Israel



Soweto based entrepreneur Thando Makhubu is known for starting an ice cream business three years ago on just R700 in social-grant payments. Now, the enterprising businessman has teamed up with the South African Friends of Israel (SAFI) to make Israel-themed ice cream to celebrate the Jewish state’s 75th anniversary.

Makhubu’s customised pale blue and white ice creams were recently served at his premises to representatives of SAFI and the South African Zionist Federation to kickstart celebrations of Israel’s anniversary. “This is a start of a number of cultural events around this theme that SAFI will be running this year,” said Bafana Modise, SAFI communication and media liaison.

Makhubu is a fan of Israel. “He’s a Christian who supports peace in the Middle East, and he’s fascinated by Israel’s innovation,” Modise said.

Makhubu’s extraordinary story began in August 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. His venture, according to SowetanLive, started out as an experiment. Makhubu applied for a social grant of R350 in March 2020, and received the first payment in May, which he used on his family.

He then saved his next two pay-outs (for June and July), and used the R700 to buy ice cream-making tools. He started selling the product to friends and family, and after some well-known people arrived to support him and posted about it on social media, word spread about his product. From the initial outlay, Makhubu made a profit of about R5 000, which he used to buy more stock.

“Since alcohol was banned at the time, people bought a lot of ice cream,” Makhubu told SowetanLive.

But Makhubu, who operates the business from his mother’s house, became really famous when he was mentioned in a tweet by President Cyril Ramaphosa in response to the State of the Nation last year. “Mr 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,” Ramaphosa tweeted, causing an avalanche of response.

However, Makhubu’s business has since been struck by load shedding, and he’s struggling to stay open. He’s using a generator, but it adds to his costs, and he’s investigating alternative sources of energy such as purchasing an inverter and solar options. SAFI assisted him by donating material for ice cream and funding.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Pam

    Mar 8, 2023 at 9:12 am

    This is amazing. Hope someone donates an inverter to him, wish I could!

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