By: Tebogo Mokwena
Entrepreneurs in rural and farming communities in South Africa agree that the Small Enterprise Development Agency’s (SEDA) pop-up markets have provided them with much-needed access to local markets. They are now encouraging other rural-based small businesses to attend pop-up markets to grow their business, and have called on SEDA to host more markets in rural areas and not in their nearest towns.
Pop-up markets were first fully introduced by SEDA in the 2021/22 financial year to unlock growth opportunities for SMMEs to access markets. According to the agency’s annual report for the year, 31,457 SMMEs and cooperatives were assisted in accessing local and international markets. SMMEs in rural Limpopo, the Northern Cape and the Western Cape told Vutivi News that attending the markets had introduced them to new clients and new ways of reaching prospective clients and businesses.
Matome Maphala, the owner of Matswi Braai Stands, told Vutivi that he had attended the markets three times, and the most recent one was at Savannah Mall in Polokwane. While he was happy that they gave SMMEs market exposure, he pointed out that they would have a more direct impact if they were hosted in rural villages as opposed to towns. “Attending pop-up markets creates brand awareness and as a result, each time I attend pop-ups, I always get new customers,” Maphala said.
“My business is also given more exposure as more clients from other parts of Polokwane get to know about my business. “However, I believe that if they host the pop-ups in rural villages, it will motivate and inspire young people who do not believe that successful businesses can originate from rural communities.” Cheri Mooney, whose business Che Love Accessories is based in Oudtshoorn, told Vutivi News that she had attended one pop-up market.
However, it was enough for her to establish a footprint in her region and she was exporting her accessories to the United States at the same time. She noted that attending the pop-up markets exposed her not only to many prospective clients but also to officials from SEDA and the Department of Small Business Development, who were assisting her business to grow. “It is very important that these markets are done regularly to assist small businesses with platforms to make sales and also develop,” she said.
Fundiswa Gxoyiya, whose business Black Fura is in De Aar in the Northern Cape, has also attended a few pop-ups, where locals became aware of her work. “Everyone got to see the work that I do, and it helped my client base grow,” she said. “Markets like this are important because people work from home and they don’t get exposure so when they do attend pop-up markets people recognise their works without going to their home.”
She wished that there were pop-ups in the other smaller towns surrounding De Aar. According to the research paper “Factors Influencing Young Consumers’ Impulse Intentions Toward Visiting Pop-Up Stores in South Africa”, pop-up retail has become a staple marketing strategy for retailers across different product categories, retail channels and locations. The paper also noted that South African pop-up markets and stores are emerging markets. However, little research has been done in this sector regarding how consumers behave toward them.