Starting an internet cafe in South Africa can be quite simple and cheap to get off the ground. There are great opportunities for entrepreneurs to start an internet cafe in South Africa at a low startup cost with the potential to bring in a regular income.
To start a small internet cafe in South Africa, equipped with 5 computers, will require an investment of between R68,000 – R135,000. An internet cafe with 15-20 computers will cost between R406,000 – R676,000 to start. This includes the computers, internet service providers and internet cafe software.
I’ve personally used internet cafes to keep in touch with loved ones while travelling, and locally for their services like printing or scanning. With more people working from home, there is a demand for office services that an internet cafe can provide for.
Let’s dig into what it costs and what it takes to get an internet cafe up and running in South Africa…
How to Calculate The Cost Of Starting An Internet Cafe In South Africa?
The cost of starting an internet cafe in South Africa will depend on the number of computers and services you plan to offer to your customers.
The basic business model of an internet cafe is that clients are buying time to use your computer and internet services. Therefore an internet cafe needs to provide higher spec computers and internet connection than a regular home set up.
It will only be necessary to purchase equipment that’s in line with your business plan and service offering.
The equipment you need to set up your internet cafe business in South Africa includes:
- Client computers
- A server computer that manages the client computers
- Internet cafe software
- Internet service provider
- Networking hardware
If you plan on offering additional services such as food and drinks, then factor in the cost of setting up a kitchen on premises. It is important to note that if you are serving food, you may also need a licence from the local municipality to allow you to prepare and serve food. This will come at an additional cost.
What Computers Do You Need To Start An Internet Cafe And How Much Do They Cost?
Computers in internet cafes are used all day, every day. So you will need fast and powerful desktop machines that can withstand daily use.
The good news is that you don’t need to break the bank to start your internet cafe business in South Africa. Instead of buying brand new computers, I would suggest you invest in high quality refurbished computers that function like brand new computers but come at second-hand prices.
You can save even more money by purchasing refurbished computer bundles. You can like QStore. Below is a table of refurbished computer console and monitor bundles that you can buy to start your internet cafe business in South Africa:
|Model||Fujitsu Q520 USFF + 22″ Fujitsu Monitor Set||Dell OptiPlex 9010 SFF + Dell 19″ Monitor Set||HP Prodesk 600 G1 SFF + 19″ Monitor Set|
|Operating System (OS)||Windows 10||Windows 10 Pro||Windows 10|
|RAM||4 GB||4 GB||4GB|
|Hard Drive||500 GB||500 GB||320GB|
|Processor||Intel Core i3 – 4th Gen||Intel i5||Intel Core i3 – 4th Gen|
Computer software is just as important as the hardware that you use. As a free alternative to the Mac OS or Microsoft Windows, use Linux and utilize the OpenOffice.org suite as a free alternative to the Microsoft Office suite.
Reduce maintenance costs and software corruption by installing a firewall on your routers to protect your servers from worms, viruses and attacks. Also ensure that each computer has antivirus software installed to avoid viruses that may be brought in by clients downloaded files, external drives or CDs.
What Is Internet Cafe Software And How Much Does It Cost?
Internet cafe software allows you to easily manage your business from the server computer. This means that you’ll be able to control all the client computers, manage client accounts, set up security permissions, manage your prepaid or postpaid payment structures and get up to date reports.
You’ll want to protect and monitor the usage of your client computers so that no one uses your services for free. Internet cafe software protects your client computers with a log-in page. Protected computers can only be opened from the server computer or when a client has opened a prepaid account.
The client computer will be automatically protected again with the login page when the client’s prepaid time expires or when they finish their session.
There are paid and free internet cafe management programs available on the market with varying capabilities. The table below compares the features of the three top programs to get you started.
|Antamedia Internet Cafe||CyberCafePro||PanCafe Pro|
|Price||$49 – $399(R670 – R5,500)||Free||Free|
|Windows 10 compatible||Yes||No||Yes|
|Prepaid pricing structures||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Client membership management||No||Yes||Yes|
|Control and bill for printing services||Only for Standard, Premium and Enterprise licenses||Yes||Yes|
Your choice of internet cafe software will depend on how many computers you have, how you offer your services and the type of operating system in use. Most internet cafe programs are outdated and are not compatible with Windows 10. If you want your internet cafe to thrive well into the future, choose programs that are updated regularly and that will facilitate expanding your business more easily.
How To Make Your Internet Cafe Successful in South Africa
Any entrepreneur will tell you that there is no guarantee to starting a successful and profitable business. When starting and growing your internet cafe business it is helpful to identify your unique selling points that will attract clients and keep them.
One way to do this is by offering discounted prices for additional prepaid time. For example, you could sell 4-hour tickets with a 10% discount and 5-hour tickets with a 20% discount. This will not only keep your regular clients coming back, but you’ll also attract new clients.
Some people visit internet cafes because they don’t have access to certain electronic privileges at home. This is an opportunity for you to offer and charge for additional services such as printing or scanning.
Attract a younger demographic and broaden your target market. Esports and multiplayer online games have become incredibly popular in recent years.
Viewership for esports is forecasted to grow at a 9% compound annual growth rate. It’s more entertaining to participate in multiplayer games or watch esports with friends in the same location. So why not allow multiplayer games and allow your customers to visit your internet cafe in groups?
Remember that the type of services that you offer will determine the equipment that you will need. Gaming requires higher internet speeds and more robust graphic cards to deliver satisfactory client experiences. Keep this in mind when developing your business plan.
The Pros And Cons Of Starting An Internet Cafe In South Africa
It’s always valuable to understand the advantages and disadvantages of any business idea. We’ve compiled a quick list of what this could look like for an internet cafe in South Africa.
- Low capital investment. The main costs for starting an internet cafe are the computer hardware and software. A startup budget from R68,000 – R135,000 for a small internet cafe is relatively modest compared to other types of businesses.
- Competition is low. Many people have computers and internet access at home so there are fewer internet cafes around than there were a couple of years ago. Today the opportunity lies in providing a community atmosphere that alleviates the high mobile data rates that South Africans are subject to. The growing popularity of online gaming and esports opens a door to a new customer base that did not previously exist.
- Expand the business with related services. Internet cafes are mainly a source for clients to use the internet and computer services. However, it would be simple and beneficial to you to expand the business with related services that appeal to the modern client base. Additional services might include printing services, food and beverage, esport tournaments, or private working spaces.
- Scaling the business is challenging. There are limited options as to how big you can scale an internet cafe business. You can either open and sell franchises or open a network of internet cafes around a city or community. Multiple successful internet cafe businesses can be established yet they will always remain at the same level with similar service offerings.
- Constantly update and replace equipment. Clients visit internet cafes for fast and powerful computers. The constant use of computers means that their wear and tear happens quickly. Computers require regular maintenance, constant cleaning and every 2-4 years equipment will need to be replaced. Additionally, software programs will also need to be regularly updated to meet the needs of clients.
Of course, this list might look different for each business depending on the specific market and your entrepreneurial experience. The same is true for the costs of starting an internet cafe in South Africa. Your service offerings will determine the type of equipment necessary while the needs of your target market and location will influence the profitability of your internet cafe.