Johannesburg- Thabani Dube, the self-taught pizza maker from South Africa’s sprawling township of Umlazi V section in KwaZulu-Natal, is a man on a mission.
The 21-year-old Fine Arts graduate took advantage of the hard lockdown last year as the government’s direct response to the crippling effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and established a pizza enterprise on a shoestring budget.
The government regulations prohibited fast food outlets from running their operations. He said it was under this climate of doom and gloom in which his idea flourished and coined his newly found business venture “The Pizza Guy NUZ”.
NUZ is a common reference for the township located on the southwest of Durban derived from the vehicle registration plate attached to the township.
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“Around the township, I would listen to them lamenting about how they missed going out, yearning for their favorite eateries. I then discovered that the common thread in the conversations was their undying love of pizza. This propelled me to toss ideas around and I also got some help from the various internet searches. I was also inspired by my mother’s cooking,” Dube said.
It didn’t take long for Dube to put what he had gathered through the internet into action, subsequently cooking his first pizza using his mother’s kitchen microwave. He then provided free samples to his neighbours who gave his home-cooked pizza the green light.
He added that his secret lies in the delicate touch of African indigenous recipes mixed with eastern mosaic flavors. He also caters for other iconic pizza preferences such as mushrooms, BBQ chicken, vegetables and meat lovers’ pizza.
“I would say that it was an experiment which went right because I only spent about R1 000 as starting capital. I make pizzas from scratch, from mixing the dough to the toppings.
“For now, we only cover Umlazi due to transportation, but it doesn’t stop people from coming by to pick up their orders.”
Dube has big plans in the pipeline, saying he wants to grow his business into a formidable pizza making enterprise and contribute to job creation.
“At the moment I employ people on a casual basis because I’m working from home using a family kitchen. The demand is growing by the day and the unavailability of big machinery and space is substantially limiting.”
Dube also has a message for aspiring entrepreneurs. “Don’t wait for the perfect moment to come, just start,” he said.
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