Govt cuts in to give informal KZN traders a chance to grow
A new bulk trading facility is set to help small businesses access goods at cheaper prices
For 10 years Sthembile Sekese has sold sweets, rice and other household items at her tuckshop in Mandeni, north of Durban. The 45-year-old Sekese has been able to feed and educate her two children with the money made from her little business.
But in recent years Sekese has found it difficult to sustain herself and her family. She blames her loss of revenue on being unable to compete with the cheaper prices offered by her foreign counterparts in the area.
“My neighbour, who is a foreign national, also has a tuckshop but he sells things at a much cheaper rate because they buy together and in bulk. If one of them has a car he/she will pick up stock for everyone,” Sekese said.
Now, in an attempt to help small business owners such as Sekese secure stock at a reasonable price, the department of economic development, tourism, and environmental affairs last week opened its first bulk buying facility in Mandeni. The programme involves central buying, warehousing and distribution of perishable and non-perishable consumer goods.
“Through it, we seek to harness the power of collective purchasing of fast-moving consumer goods by traders operating in township and rural communities. Research indicates that SA’s overall food market is worth about R500bn, with the formal retailers accounting for 68%,” said the department’s MEC, Sihle Zikalala.
The department will buy stock straight from the manufacturers, from where small business owners can buy stock at a lower price. The entire system will be cashless.
“We will inspect the area where you are trading and install a machine offered by Ithala that will allow you to buy stock from the warehouse using a smart card that will be linked to the bank,” said Zikalala.
“We buy from manufacturers and order at a price that is very reasonable. This will help our traders to be competitive and outmanoeuvre people who are selling illegally.”
Zikalala said that, once ordered, the stock would be delivered to the shop owners using two new trucks bought by the department.
For Sekese this means that she would be able to save hundreds of rands. “I make about R4,000 a month and spend over R1,000 traveling to Stanger, 35km from Mandeni. It is very stressful to have such expenses, but now I will be able to save money.”
The community of Mandeni was gripped by protest action last week with residents blocking roads with burning tyres and even setting alight a company building that was non-operational. Residents said they were tired of the mismanagement of their municipality and its funds. Residents also said that they wanted the mayor Siphesihle Zulu to resign.
“I hope residents are able to see that this will help us help them get things at a reasonable price,” said Sekese.
The department is hoping to take this pilot project and introduce it in other small communities in KZN.