How to start an internet café in South Africa?

How to start an internet café in South Africa?

Internet cafés were a big business a decade ago, today, you just see less and less of them. However, this doesn’t mean that this is no longer a viable business. You can get a lot of success from running an internet café in South Africa. This is a guide on how to start an internet café in South Africa.

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Internet cafés are mainly used for accessing the internet using computers and for printing, scanning and faxing. A lot more people have access to the internet in South Africa today but a huge chunk of people doesn’t have computers. They mainly access the internet using smartphones, this makes it difficult for them to do things that would normally require a computer.

The number of people with printers on their homes is even lesser, this still provides internet cafes with some opportunities. The high cost of mobile data also makes using an internet café for research that takes a long time quite attractive.

Choose the right location

You can’t open an internet café in a high-income neighbourhood, it just won’t work. A lot of people from high-income neighbourhoods have WI-FI and computers, the majority of them also have multipurpose printers. The only time you are going to get business is when the ink on their printers has ran out. This is a mistake that is made by a lot of entrepreneurs, leasing a space in a high-income neighbourhood is expensive as well. Your business will run at a loss and ultimately fail.

Take your internet café to people who actually need it, the city centre of any town is not a bad place to have an internet café. Especially in small towns that are surrounded by rural areas or townships. You can also open your internet café in a township, you will likely get a lot of clients, especially if you don’t have competition.

Don’t make the mistake of choosing a location that is very secluded or has very few citizens or people who don’t have a use for internet cafés. There are a lot of people who will come to print CVs and also scan them more than anything. Some will come to use your internet to look for jobs.

Register your business

An internet café can operate as part of the informal sector, especially when it’s in a rural area or township. However, it will be to your advantage to register your business, registering the business will only cost your R175 when registering through the CIPC.

Operating premises

You will have to spend a lot on renovations of your operating premises, you might find that you are leasing a space that used to be a tuck shop. Most entrepreneurs won’t have enough capital to build their own operating premises from the start. You will need to renovate the place to meet the feel and look of an internet café. This includes painting the walls and making proper electric installations.

Buy equipment

You will need to invest in equipment, mainly computers, desks and maybe 2 multipurpose scanners. You should also setup your whole network and get an internet service provider. Buy everything that will make people comfortable, you can include fans for ventilation if your premises are big enough.


You don’t need to do a lot of social media marketing for an internet café. Internet cafés are usually strictly for a certain geographical area and people only use them when they need them. However, you can get your business on Google maps, that will make it easier for people to discover it. Besides that, you don’t have to do much marketing, you can just print out a few flyers and soon your business will get customers, mainly from word of mouth.


This was a guide on how to start an internet café in South Africa. Do you have any thoughts or questions? Comment below.

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