By: Tebogo Mokwena
The township and rural SMME organisation eKasi Entrepreneurs are set to launch an initiative where township residents can own, rent and run spaza shops without being physically present. The initiative is set to be launched by the end of March and is expected to foster a culture of ownership in the township economy. According to eKasi Entrepreneurs’ Head of Spaza Shops, Mbongiseni Sangweni, the initiative is called the Spaza Shops Stokvel and will be launched and operated on the successful stokvel platform Stoffella by eKasi Entrepreneurs.
Sangweni told Vutivi News that the Spaza Shops Stokvel would address issues faced by spaza shops such as bulk buying and access to markets. It would include Rent a Spaza, Spaza Shop Tools and Spaza Shops Bulk Buying. Through the stokvel, members will have the opportunity to contribute money and open and run a spaza shop, which will be run on their behalf by the Stokvel.
The Spaza Shop Tool will supply shelves, fridges, and points of sale, and make renovations to the spaza shop. The Rent-A-Spaza allows the stokvel to build, expand, add containers, brand them, negotiate the lease agreement and set up stock. With the bulk buying option, the stokvel purchases stock in bulk, and this also saves on transport costs as the suppliers deliver the stock free of charge.
Sangweni said that the costs of starting a business were too high for most people to do so on their own. “We understand that start-up costs are very high and entrepreneurs just want to trade and not pay a lot of start-up money which contributes to many start-up businesses failing in their first year,” he said. Sangweni also said that this model created an ecosystem for township entrepreneurs, and helped grow local economies.
The stokvel also promotes local products and ensures that these products are given shelf space and that owners are assisted in marketing and compliance. “As eKasi Entrepreneurs, we have done the research, put together systems and processes, started and operated our own spaza shops and are well acquainted with the behaviours, trends and needs of our different community members,” he said.
Sangweni, currently has eight spaza shops, which are run by locals and employ a total of 14 people. They are trained on how to run a tuckshop. According to Old Mutual’s Savings and Investment Monitor, stokvels are an R45-billion industry and the number of stokvel groups is estimated to be more than 800,000. Also, customers who belonged to stokvels saved R1214 a month in 2022, according to Old Mutual.