The Soweto Kota Festival has over the years assisted kota businesses in Gauteng townships to grow, expand and create employment.
This year the festival is back, bigger and better than before, with more kota businesses showing off their food on the 3 and 4 September at the Soweto Cricket Oval, which is also known as the Elkah Cricket Stadium.
The event’s organiser, Sidwell Tshingilane, told Vutivi News that the festival, which was first held in 2017, was an important platform to not only grow kota businesses, but also the township economy at large. It also helped elevate the status of the kota, which is quarter loaf of bread hollowed out and filled again with ingredients.
“When we started, we started out with a few kota businesses who were owned by young people,” he said.
“The kota business owners are exposed to people from around the Gauteng province, and as a result, there was growth in their businesses due to an increase in demand for their kotas.
“We also assist the kota businesses with marketing and market them on our social media pages, and this, in turn, increases the foot traffic to these businesses.”
Tshingilane said that some of the businesses operated only from tables when they attended the festival.
“Because they were constantly attending, and consequently growing, we would give them business advice and encourage them to buy trailers, and this proved that their businesses were growing,” he said.
“Some of these businesses became very successful and went on to have more than three branches across Soweto and other townships.
“The businesses also create jobs in townships, thereby tackling the issue of unemployment in the township, and that’s one of the main reasons why we do this: to create a stronger and more inclusive township economy,” he added.
Even after the event, they gained in popularity.
“We have seen an increase in attendees requesting contact details of the establishments long after the festival.”
This year, organisers expect between 18,000 and 20,000 attendees. There will be around 50 stalls and a long list of activities for the young and old.
When they started the event in 2017 because there was no festival focusing on the township street food, 2000 people showed up to try the different kotas on the offer.
And it proved to be the right decision.
“The number of kota businesses that have stalls at the festival increases by 10% annually, and we are also seeing an increase in kota businesses in townships because of the number of jobs lost,” Tshingilane explained.
He said the increase in kota businesses has also had a positive knock-on effect for others. There has been growth in shops supplying ingredients like bread, cheese and cold meats because the sector is experiencing growth.
And all of these factors have helped boost the township economy.