How to Start a Catering Business in South Africa


If you’re looking to start a catering business in South Africa, there are several things to consider. From setting up your business, obtaining licenses and permits, to finding clients and marketing your services, it can be overwhelming. However, with the right knowledge and tools, starting a catering business is not only possible but also profitable.
In this article, we will explore the steps needed to start a catering business in South Africa, including tips and best practices for success. We’ll also provide examples of successful catering businesses in South Africa and discuss some common mistakes that entrepreneurs should avoid.

  1. Choose Your Specialty
    The first step in starting a catering business is choosing your specialty.

    What type of food will you offer?

    Will you focus on traditional South African cuisine or modern twists on classic dishes? Whatever your choice, make sure it aligns with your target market and is unique enough to stand out from the competition.

  2. Obtain Licenses and Permits
    Once you’ve chosen your specialty, the next step is obtaining the necessary licenses and permits to operate your business. This includes registering your business with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), obtaining a tax reference number from the South African Revenue Service (SARS), and complying with local health and safety regulations.
  3. Find Your Target Market
    The next step is finding your target market.

    Who are you catering to?

    Are you looking to work with high-end clients or focus on corporate events and meetings? Once you’ve identified your target market, you can start developing a marketing strategy that will appeal to them.

  4. Create a Business Plan
    A business plan is essential for any business, including catering businesses. Your business plan should include an executive summary, company description, market analysis, financial projections, and a marketing strategy. This will help you stay on track and make informed decisions as your business grows.
  5. Market Your Services
    Marketing is crucial to the success of any business, and this is especially true for catering businesses. You can start by creating a website that showcases your menu, services, and contact information. Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are also great tools for marketing your business. Additionally, attending industry events and networking with other entrepreneurs can help you gain exposure and build relationships.
    Successful Catering Businesses in South Africa
    There are several successful catering businesses in South Africa that have achieved success through hard work and dedication. One such business is "Spice Route," which specializes in Indian cuisine and has won numerous awards for its delicious food and excellent service. Another example is "The Big Green Table," which focuses on sustainable, locally-sourced cuisine and has a strong commitment to environmental activism.

    Common Mistakes to Avoid

    Starting a catering business can be challenging, but it’s important to avoid common mistakes that can derail your success. These include underestimating the costs of starting and running a business, not conducting market research, and failing to develop a marketing strategy. It’s also important to be flexible and adaptable, as the catering industry is constantly evolving and changing.


    Starting a catering business in South Africa can be a rewarding experience if you have the right knowledge and tools. By choosing your specialty, obtaining the necessary licenses and permits, finding your target market, creating a business plan, and marketing your services effectively, you can set yourself up for success. Remember to avoid common mistakes and stay flexible and adaptable, and you’ll be well on your way to building a successful catering business in South Africa.