Major boost for spaza shops

South African spaza shops owners were thrilled to take part in a business workshop held at Lookout Hill, in Khayelitsha.

The future of spaza shops owned by South Africans in Khayelitsha is looking bright, thanks to the South African Spaza Shops Cooperative (SASSCOP).

The organisation has vowed to work tirelessly to develop and improve South African-owned spaza shops after securing funding of  R270 000 from the Department of Small Business Development.

The money is to be shared among 30 spaza shop owners, with each shop getting R9 000 worth of resources to improve the businesses.

This emerged during a three-day business workshop, at the Look Out Hill, from Tuesday March 28 until Thursday March 30.

SASSCOP firmly believes that spaza shops are critical to the country’s economic growth.

They called for spaza shop owners to be mentored and supported so they can fully realise their potential.

They argued that South Africans found it difficult to sustain and run their businesses effectively.

Founder and chairperson of SASSCOP, Bongani Vakele, said they realised that spaza shop owners were not given the necessary skills and support to develop their businesses.

He said some time ago they conducted intensive research and discovered that spaza shops have the potential to curb unemployment.

However, he said, owners were frustrated due to government’s lack of support.

Mr Vakele said participants were trained to handle their finances, take stock and taught better ways of running their businesses.

He said the intention was to change how spaza shops worked and to lure big companies to partner with them.

Mr Vakele said part of their mission was to create a better working relationship between foreign and South African owned shops. He said their intention was to ensure that they shared skills among themselves and established fair and healthy business competition.

Mr Vakele said according to a survey conducted in 2002, there were 4 200 spaza shop owners in the province. He believed that number had since doubled, creating more employment opportunities.

“We have been invited by the Department of Small Business Development standing committee in parliament to do a presentation about some of the innovative ways that we think can be implemented to improve this sector. We are also calling on foreign shopkeepers to partner with us.,” he said.

Department of Small Business Development representative Vukile Nkabinde confirmed that the department has indeed provided funding to spaza shop owners who had been trained on basic business skills.

He said the department was co-ordinating the National Informal Business Upliftment Strategy (NIBUS), which recognised the importance of informal businesses in addressing poverty and the creation of jobs.

He added that they started in 2015 with a pilot project called the Informal Trader Upliftment Project (ITUP) which also benefited some of the traders in Khayelitsha.

“The main challenge was that there is a tough competition from foreign nationals, who seem to be so organised and buy together so that they can get discounts., “ he said.

However, through skills support and funding (the department) wants these (South African) shops to be productive.”

Shop owner, Siyabulela Jama, said he felt excited and grateful about the resources.

He described the business workshop as a reminder that they should continue running their business.

Mr Jama said government support forced them to go ahead with their businesses despite the harsh economic and socio-economic issues facing their businesses..

“Our biggest challenge is our safety as we are constantly robbed,” he said.