Langa entrepreneurs open stores

Thembis Market forms part of the Market Store Partnership with the Independent Traders Programme. Market store owner, Thembi Dike, is pictured with the programmes partners at the store opening. Leon de Lange and Craig Lamb (Pick n Pay) and Minister David Maynier, Western Cape MEC of Finance and Economic Opportunities

Two local residents have realised their dreams of becoming business owners with the launch of their stores in Langa.

Thembi Dike, 49, welcomed customers to Thembi’s Market last Friday as she opened the doors to her own shop for the first time, while Bantu Ntshuntshe, 40, launched his Nabe Market to the community in August.

In the process, they have also created new jobs and opportunities for locals.

The new stores form part of the Market Store Partnership with Independent Traders Programme, which is a collaborative effort between Pick n Pay, the Western Cape government and funding partners.

Through the programme, local entrepreneurs are empowered with the necessary support to open, upgrade or expand their own store while remaining 100% independent.

With the support from Pick n Pay, they run and operate their own store to serve the community’s needs.

Ms Dike was one of the first aspiring entrepreneurs in the Western Cape to apply to be part of the programme.

Growing up with a business-orientated family, Ms Dike grasped the dynamics of a retail business at a young age, which have now been brought to bear with the opening of her business.

“My family originally owned a butchery and a grocery store. From 1978 they ran one of the first petrol stations to be built in Gugulethu and I began working as a petrol attendant when I was in matric,” says Ms Dike.

By 2015, she had worked her way up to manager status but left the business when her family decided to rent out the petrol station.

She held various positions in retail until July this year when she quit her job as an account manager at a brewery to prepare for opening and running her own store.

Ms Dike says her work experience means she is used to working long hours and is well versed with “the real world of retail ups-and-downs”.

Speaking excitedly about her new store, she explains that the location has special meaning.

“The original owner, Mr Mkiva – who sadly passed away in July – ran a grocery store here for more than 40 years.

“When the store closed towards the end of 2018, I saw the opportunity to open my own store. The time wasn’t appropriate then but last year we came to a rental agreement for the building.”

The store has been upgraded with new refrigeration and IT systems, and now also boasts a hot foods counter, deli and butchery.

“My mother, at age 70, is running the butchery as she has so much experience, but she is very strict as she always has to be precise.”

Ms Dike’s daughter, Ntombehlubi, 20, has also joined the business and is assisting her mom with the admin. “

The support from the community has been overwhelmingly positive,” she says and adds that she heard about the project from her former boss Vusi Vokwana, who is also the secretary of the Lagunya business association.

“Opening my own Market store is something I am very excited about as it will help in decreasing the rate of unemployment in my community, as well as uplifting it.”

The new store has employed 13 permanent staff members from the local community.

Born and raised in Langa, Mr Ntshuntshe grew up 500 metres from his new store, Nabe Market, which opened on August 21.

“I used to shop here when I was a young boy,” explains Mr Ntshuntshe.

“From the 1970s, it was owned by a prominent black businesswoman but sadly she passed away a few years ago. When I was presented with the opportunity to open my own store, I loved the history of the site and asked the family to lease the property to me.”

It would seem Mr Ntshuntshe was destined to operate in retail, although it was by chance he applied to join the Market store programme.

“My grandmother ran a small spaza shop from a building at the back of our house from the early 1990s to early 2000. I worked there all the time during school holidays.

“I always knew I wanted to open my own business but I first wanted to learn the correct processes, especially from a company who has succeeded on a large scale.

“For 13 years I worked at Pick n Pay head office as a SAP Business Analyst.

“I closely followed the programme since it was piloted in Johannesburg in 2016, and two and a half years ago I applied to join the programme. During this time I closely shadowed the owner of Ndwamba Market in Nyanga to learn more.

“I left Pick n Pay at the end of May as we prepared to formally open my store this month.”

He is excited to serve his community who still recognise him from when he was a small kid.

“My mother still stays in the community and is now running the store’s deli.”

The store employs 20 people.

“The community support, especially on our opening day, was overwhelming. They are standing behind me and supporting my business,” says Mr Ntshuntshe.

Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC David Maynier said: “Entrepreneurs like Thembi Dike and Bantu Ntshuntshe are an inspiration, especially in these challenging times, and so we are proud to partner with Pick n Pay on their Market Store programme so that we can support more independent business owners to open their own stores in the Western Cape.

“These entrepreneurs play a critical role in creating jobs, supporting skills development and providing opportunities for those who need it most in their local communities.”

“This is a real partnership between the Market store owner and Pick n Pay.

“We work closely alongside the owner to guide, support and mentor them so that they can successfully run and grow their business,” says Richard van Rensburg, chief information officer at Pick n Pay.