In an attempt to reclaim and build the township economy, the Township Tuckshop Economy Movement was formed, and its membership base continues to grow.
The group’s spokesperson, Bongani Mfobela, told Vutivi News that the concept behind the movement came about last year.
“Back in the days of apartheid, spaza shops were owned by community members and people who lived in the communities. After the dawn of democracy, we saw a mushrooming of foreign nationals in our townships, replacing the known owners,” he said.
“We decided that since we did not have capital, we decided to get people to invest in the business. We planned to get 200 members to pay R500 a month so that we could start the movement.”
Mfobela said the organisers took to social media to punt the movement.
“By the 20th of August we had 120 members in our cooperative. The first contribution by members was made in September, and the rest is history,” he said.
Most of the tuckshops are based in Ekurhuleni, especially in Duduza. Eighty percent of its members come from Ekurhuleni, and some are in Soweto and Tshwane.
The first tuckshop was opened on the 14th of November, the second one on the 12th of December and the third tuckshop last week.
“We aim on starting in the Far East Rand before we spread to the rest of Ekurhuleni, Gauteng and eventually the whole country,” Mfobela said.
While discussing how to go forward with the project, they decided not to sell expired goods because they wanted to “compete with companies like Pick n Pay in the local economy”.
“Each time we launch a tuckshop we conduct a door-to-door survey and we ask people what kind of items they buy from spaza shops normally. We sell what people around the tuckshop normally use.”
Mfobela said community members were supporting the tuckshops.
“We chose to start the movement by launching tuckshops because these are the most supported businesses in townships since not everyone can afford to buy groceries once a month,” he said.
Mfobela said the organisers had been getting calls from people across the country who wanted to become members.
However, the group has bigger dreams than only focusing on tuckshops.
“The issue of tuckshops is just the beginning because we aim on targeting other sectors in the township because there are people who are not residing in our townships, but are making money from our townships,” he said.
“We know that most of the owners of hardwares and other businesses don’t live in the township and this is what we want to change.”
They plan on approaching the government for support, saying not only was the group putting the economic power back into the hands of communities, but it would also help in the fight against unemployment.
So far, four people have been employed.
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