After realising that township retail businesses struggle to gain access to manufacturers, Tumi Letsaba and his colleagues decided to help them. The result of their efforts is an app that not only helps township retail stores to access manufacturers, but also keeps inventory for them.
Letsaba, from Frankfort in Free State, is one of four co-founders of Next Curve Creations, which designed the Progressive Creations app.
The company was founded by Letsaba, Bandile Ntombela, Ditjaba Selema and Kgomotso Sebitlo, who are all seasoned and experienced in tech, finance, and business professionals.
“We are a solution-oriented organisation that leverages current innovations and technological trends to provide value. Our key focus is the underserved markets, and, in our approach, we always think of an ‘African Solutions for African Problems’ approach,” he said.
The app was launched this month and currently has 10 users, who are also based in Frankfort.
“We wanted to make a positive contribution, and to empower our people. We identified that there is a need in our community for tools that will enable entrepreneurs to survive,” he told Vutivi News.
“We realised that retailers struggle with gaining access to fast-moving consumer goods manufacturers and to organise themselves to access manufacturers. We decided to create a platform that makes it easy for retailers to organise so that they can use their numbers to access manufacturers.
“We also wanted to give them tech tools that will help them run their businesses efficiently,” he said.
The app offered township businesses an opportunity to adapt to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Letsaba said.
“We are offering businesses an opportunity to jump on the digitisation wave,” he said.
“Technology has a huge impact in our daily lives, and in order to keep up with current trends we believe that our people need the opportunity to adapt.”
Letsaba explained to Vutivi News how the app works.
“If you own a store in the township and you have a smartphone, you download the app from the app store for free. Once you have the app on your phone, you will be able to use barcode-scanning capabilities to scan goods you have received and the system will update your inventory on the app,” he said.
“When someone comes to buy a certain item, you will scan its barcode and it will update the stock. You’ll be able to view sales and stock levels.”
Letsaba said him and his co-founders were delighted when township store owners used their app and were extremely satisfied with how it made their lives easier.
The company was now looking at how to enable township entrepreneurs to buy directly from food manufacturers to make it cheaper for them.
“We know that there is a need for this solution, for opportunities for digitisation particularly in the township economy.”
Letsaba said that they were hoping to expand to other provinces and eventually to other parts of Africa.