Boys Coffee Club – Interview with Thabiso Matlhwane

ZApreneur interviewed Thabiso Matlhwane, co-founder of Boys Coffee Club.

Thabiso Matlhwane Boys Coffee Club
Thabiso Matlhwane Doing What He Does and Loves, and getting rave reviews on social media

Hi. Tell us a little about who you are, and why you started Boys Coffee Club? Why the name “Boys Coffee Club”? Are there any girls involved?
We are a combination of 4 multi skilled individuals with a passion for change and success. The company came about when our Co-Founder and managing director wanted to do something that would compliment her already established business called Girls Cake Club. BCC has been operational for a year that is when i joined after i left Pick n Pay as a cashier and full time student. We are all trained baristas and Shannon is the only female that neutralises the bravado of the other 3 male partners.
What is your core offering? What makes you awesome?
Our core offering is coffee/crafted caffeinated drinks ranging from hot chocolate, teas, alcoholic and non-alcoholic coffee drinks and pastries. We our own coffee roasting, packaging and branding and have our own range of Boys Coffee Club coffee available for wholesale supply. We also do barista training and coffee shop consultations, which really makes our core offering all things COFFEE. What makes us awesome is our energy, creativity and combination of different personalities, which we have optimised to create memorable experiences for all our clients.
What has been your experience in running a mobile business?
We have had amazing experiences good and bad being mobile comes with its own risks and uncertainties and we have managed to stick together and work as a unit to make it successful. We love mobile, because it has allowed us to meet and interact with different individuals from across the country, allowing us to develop new relationships in driving our business to success.
You have a branch in Cape Town? How does that work?
The branch in Cape Town was decided based on the 3 partners originally being from there. We have taken the concept we developed for Johannesburg and we are re-working and adapting it to suit that market. The coffee industry in Cape Town is a lot more developed than that of Johannesburg, but felt that there is still room for a black owned youth entity to bring in a different perspective to the norm.
What advice do you have for anyone starting out?
Never doubt yourself and your capabilities. There will be times where you may feel that you don’t see the returns in proportion to one’s efforts. Many start-ups struggle, because they under the impression that once start working you need to make a profit, forgetting that the business needs to be sustainable before you start seeing returns. You need to love and believe in what you do, because the negativity will be thrown at you from different avenues including those you’d least expect like family and friends, but if you believe in yourself an what u do nothing or no one can stop you from reaching the goals you’ve set for yourself.
What has been your biggest challenge so far? How did you overcome it?
Changing our lives to allow us to be fully focused on making the business a success. Each partner has made sacrifices towards the success of the business and the repercussions of those sacrifices, we still deal with on a daily basis, but we are all on the same page. We all have the same vision, we understand what our mission is (changing perceptions to an industry bombarded by generics an commonalities) is and we implement it on a daily even in our own lives. It is tough being a young black owned organization in a white dominated industry, because we need to work harder than everyone else with the capital and infrastructure, to prove ourselves, which we have been doing exceptionally well for over the past year.
Coffee is an interesting marketing in SA. How do you see the market developing?
The market is growing and thanks to one of the biggest competitors Starbucks, people will start understanding that coffee is a lifestyle and not an energy booster or something to keep you warm. The market is steadily starting to develop this concept and the aim now is to showcase the quality and competitiveness of local brands as this industry is still dominated by international brands.
Where can we get hold of you?
You can find us on Facebook and Instagram@ Boys Coffee Club and on twitter@Boyscoffeeclub1. You can also check out our website. We always share our locations when we are on the job and these are sometimes small pop up at markets, musical festivals and school functions, to corporate events and private functions. We have not established a permanent set-up as of yet, as we have not seen the need for it.
What are the plans for the future?
Firstly do be operational in all 9 provinces across the country, we plan on educating and training disadvantaged individuals allowing them to develop their own skill set, opening the window of opportunity for them and their families. We strive to be a generational business based on exceptional business ethics, high quality standards and unmatched customer services. We have decided to take the service offering we cater to middle and upper class markets and cater to low class markets at an entry level price. We have not compromised any of our standards to do this, but we want our people to understand that the stigma that coffee is for a certain type of person has no grounds to it and that we need to change the perceptions we have in order to open ourselves up to a bigger world.

Innovation Prize for Africa – Open for Entries

The The Innovation Prize for Africa is in its sixth year. The prize recognises Africa’s innovators (that’s you 🙂 who find market-orientated solutions.
Below find a video explaining the prize, and the press statement. And do apply!


Press Statement


The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) driver of The Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) is pleased to announce today the launch of the sixth edition of the IPA awards by calling for applications to the prestigious competition. The competition once again offers Africa’s top crop of innovators a share in a grand prize of US$150 000 and additional scalable entrepreneurial opportunities. Enterprises and individuals that have invested in delivering market-oriented solutions for African-led development are especially invited to take part in the competition.
The call for entries runs for three months starting Tuesday 27 September 2016 with a submission deadline of Tuesday 3 January 2017 at 11:59pm GMT. The IPA is looking for applications in social and economic innovation including manufacturing and service industry, health and well-being, agriculture and agri-business, environment, energy and water, and ICT showcasing ground-breaking innovations. IPA welcomes Innovations beyond the scope of these sectors.
Pauline Mujawamariya Koelbl, the IPA Director commented: “We are extremely pleased to officially launch the IPA 2017 edition for African innovators. We strongly believe that investing in today’s home-grown innovations will propel tomorrow’s prosperity for Africa.”
Investing in African prosperity
The theme for IPA 2017 is African innovation: Investing in prosperity. In line with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 9 which calls on countries to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation, AIF believes that funding streams, investment and resources are critical to obtain a clear value chain for innovation in Africa, contributing to sustainable development.
Walter Fust, Chairman of the AIF Board states: “IPA has demonstrated that African innovation talent is abundant, but funding and resources remain a challenge.  For IPA 2017, we are expanding our outreach beyond innovators to include investors and other key movers and shakers across the innovation landscape to help address this challenge.  To meet this objective of increasing support to individual innovators, makers, training institutions, existing hubs and networks, the IPA will offer sponsorship opportunities to investors and other innovation enablers who can demonstrate their commitment to support the building of more robust African innovation ecosystems.”
Why enter IPA 2017?
IPA is a leading platform on the African innovation landscape with a network of 6000+ African innovators spanning 50 countries. Its core goal is to strengthen African innovation ecosystems through its platforms and mobilize a network of innovation enablers, driving business development and cross-collaboration.
Now in its sixth year running, IPA is open to all Africans living in Africa or the diaspora. In addition to the lucrative US$150 000 cash prize, IPA is more than a mere competition. The 10 nominees are featured at the IPA 2017 event, along with lucrative entrepreneurial opportunities such as funding, communications training, active participation in the IPA network of innovators and innovation enablers, publicity in Africa and beyond across major media channels, business opportunities, as well as collaboration with enablers and investors to shape potential innovations for viable business success.
Last year’s winners were selected from nearly 1 000 entries across 46 countries, reflecting the truly Pan-African flavour of the competition. Previous IPA editions were held in Botswana (2016), Morocco (2015), Nigeria (2014), South Africa (2013) and Ethiopia (2012). IPA was endorsed at its inaugural edition in Addis Ababa in 2012 where African ministers at the joint Africa Union (AU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) passed a resolution to support AIF to promote innovation-based societies across the continent.
IPA 2017 winners will be announced at an annual awards ceremony in July 2017 (exact dates and country to be confirmed). The Awards bring together innovative talent from multi-disciplinary sectors, as well as media practitioners, investors, innovation hubs and technology parks, government institutions and innovators.
For more details, please check out our brand new IPA website and apply for IPA 2017 now through clicking on Watch  for all the information you need on IPA 2017.
Sponsorship opportunities
IPA supports African innovators by unlocking their potential, promoting home-grown solutions for Africa’s prosperity. The initiative recognises, rewards and supports African ingenuity extending beyond the continent to impact the global arena.
Organizations can register their early interest in supporting African innovation by contacting AIF for more details on the IPA sponsorship opportunities available.
African Innovation Foundation (AIF) works to increase the prosperity of Africans by catalyzing the innovation spirit in Africa.
Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) is a landmark initiative of the AIF. Its goal is to strengthen African innovation ecosystems through its platforms, whilst spurring growth of innovative, market-driven solutions to African challenges.

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Innovation Prize for Africa

FNB Business Innovation Awards

FNB Business, supported by Endeavor SA, have to announced that entries for the FNB Business INNOVATION Awards 2017 are now open. The award is decribed as follows: 

The FNB Business INNOVATION Awards 2017 aim to recognise and celebrate the efforts of high-impact entrepreneurs who have embraced many challenges to create world-class, innovative and scaleable companies that continue to forge unique ways of doing business.

High-growth, founder-led entrepreneurs will be selected based on their potential to become part of Endeavor’s international network of innovators, business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors and academics; and become the FNB Business Innovator of the Year 2017.

The prize for the FNB Business INNOVATION Awards 2017 is an all-expenses-paid trip to attend the prestigious Endeavor International Selection Panel (ISP) in New York. The FNB Business Innovator of the Year will have the opportunity to pitch their business to a credible panel of global business leaders, meet top investors and rub shoulders with their peers from around the world. Pending feedback from the panel about their business and capability as a global entrepreneur, the winner could walk away with the international recognition and prestigious title of an Endeavor Entrepreneur.

Finalists will also have the opportunity to attend the ISP at their own cost.

For more information, visit the FNB Innovation Awards website.

Entries are now open and will close on 31 January 2017.

Launch Lab – Pitching Opportunities

Launch Lab   has opportunities to pitch an idea. Selling an idea is never easy, and the videos on the website provide some useful and inspirational examples of how to pitch an idea.
The current challenges are in the following areas:

Banking Challenge

This challenges is specifically looking for new business ideas that address:

  • Enhancing client experiences using connected devices (IoT)
  • New ways to utilise mobile technology to further promote financial inclusion
  • Innovative methods to on-board and activate new clients (e.g. remote client verification)
  • Platforms to promote money transfers or fundraising for small business e.g. crowd-funding and peer-to-peer lending
  • New opportunities to leverage ATM devices for increased client activity
  • Incorporate gamification to entice deeper client engagement with banking products

 Retail Challenge

This challenge is looking for businesses that address:

  • Responding to ecommerce
  • Customer experience, comfort and convenience
  • Payments within our properties
  • Operational issues: utilities, security, cleaning

Tshimologong – Jozi's new digital playground

Johannesburg has a new space to support digital entrepreneurs, or is it tech entrepreneurs. WITS University hot on the heels of an improved international ranking has launched the Wits Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct. In the following extract from the announcement they explain the intent. Go visit the website for more details. Click here. 

Wits is transforming Braamfontein into a young, vibrant precinct for its notable tech-savvy and innovative community.
The University of the Witwatersrand and its partners in government, business and industry have officially launched the Wits Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
Setswana for “new beginnings”, Tshimologong is Johannesburg’s newest high-tech address in the vibrant inner-city district of Braamfontein, where the incubation of start-ups, the commercialisation of research and the development of high-level digital skills for students, working professionals and unemployed youths will take place.

Through Wits’ Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE), Tshimologong has been three years in the making and is a dynamic development that encourages tech innovation and collaboration between the University’s researchers and students and the private, public and civil society sectors in Johannesburg.

Building the city’s technology ecosystem

Programmers, designers, developers, entrepreneurs and start-ups will congregate in this half-a-city-block along Juta Street. It has flexible open-plan co-working areas with broadband connectivity for ICT start-ups, meeting and refreshment zones, computer laboratories, training rooms, maker spaces, creative content development environments, and administrative and infrastructure support offices.
Drawing on models that have proved hugely successful in major cities around the world, Wits is driving the development of a successful technology ecosystem in the centre of Africa’s most important business and economic hub. It will complement the University’s suite of ICT-related offerings in research, courses and programmes in software engineering, data science, big data, digital business, and others.
“Wits aims to inspire the development of a new generation of digital technology experts, innovators and entrepreneurs and Tshimologong will provide an enabling space for our country’s most creative young minds to develop new digital technologies that are crucial to South Africa’s economic growth and international competitiveness,” says Professor Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor and Principal at Wits University.

Open through membership

Not only accessible or open to University researchers and students, the Precinct is membership-based and will provide a space for skills development in the software and digital technology sector, help address unemployment, and encourage the growth of new businesses.
An important element of the Tshimologong Precinct is the recently launched IBM Research Lab, the first such facility anywhere in the world that is tightly integrated into an innovation hub.
An addition to the Tshimologong development is the establishment by Wits of The DIZ (Digital Innovation Zone), a fantastic space in Smit Street Braamfontein where creatives, innovators and programmers can come together and collaborate.
– See more at:—jozis-new-digital-playground