By: Tebogo Mokwena
A new partnership between Khona La Local Stores, which is a network of spaza shops, and TymeBank will help open the township retail space to reach more customers, thereby creating a stronger retail sector. This partnership would also tap into the potential of the township economy, according to Khona La Local Stores founder Mxolisi Buthelezi. The deal will enable local owned branded spaza shops trading under the same brand name, Khona La, to use TymeBank’s cashless point-of-sale app, TymePOS, which means store owners can use their debit and credit cards for payments for as little as R20.
Buthelezi told Vutivi News that this partnership aligned with Khona La’s ultimate goal of transforming the retail sector and modernising it. According to Buthelezi, Khona La was launched in 2021, with its first store in Alexandra, Johannesburg. They now have 15 stores situated in Daveyton and Etwatwa. TymeBank will help various store merchants set up TymeBank business accounts and start using TymePOS.
The aim of the partnership is to help local shops thrive in an increasingly digital economy and compete with bigger stores. “Black people from townships have a story to tell about a specific spaza shop that was located on the corner,” Buthelezi said. “There was a time when spaza shops were very successful. However, with the introduction of big retailers coming into townships through malls, and the influx of foreign nationals operating spaza shops, it seemed like black people had no way to succeed in this once-successful sector.
“We also learned that spaza shop owners did not understand how important collaboration within this sector is necessary,” he also said. Buthelezi said that Khona La store owners had the advantage of procuring goods from wholesalers at a wholesale price as a collective. He said another aim was to reinvent spaza shops and disassociate them from the negative connotation that comes with the name. “We call our stores local convenient stores because that is what they are,” he said.
Buthelezi told Vutivi News that he approached TymeBank for the partnership and they were keen. “What’s great about the point-of-sale system is that it enables people to cut the queues, open bank accounts and start purchasing from our stores without having to stand in long ATM queues to withdraw money to make a purchase,” he also said. “Ultimately, the aim is for us to provide shelf space for locally-manufactured products in our stores, and for them to reach a wider and bigger market.”
TymeBank’s chief commercial officer Cheslyn Jacobs said that the bank was an advocate of independently owned community businesses. “What excites us about this partnership is the opportunity to help local entrepreneurs to transform their businesses by providing the latest technology,” Jacobs said.