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An interview on How to help Spaza shop owners in sustaining their businesses

By Jessie Nkale | 29 November 2021 | Published on Township News

Please provide us with a brief description of what you do/ the role you play in your company.

I [Andrew Dawson] am the Managing Director at MACmobile, a company that enables customers to seamlessly adopt new technologies, automate their supply chain and provide order-to-invoice generation. My goal is to drive business success, meet with strategic partners and develop and maintain long-term relationships with key stakeholders. With over 15 years of experience, 2 regional offices, and hundreds of installations across Africa, MACmobile collaborates closely with its customers and business partners in 14 countries to accelerate their business performance.

What are your plans for sustaining local businesses?

In an effort to help sustain the local business, MACmobile’s goal is to simplify the line of sight across supply chains. Our solutions focus on enabling a route to market efficiencies, ensuring that through the line of sight our principals can optimize the supply of products into the informal market.

What are the benefits of having spaza shops in the communities?

For the millions of citizens who live hand-to-mouth, the role of the spaza shop as a daily commodity provider is a lifeline. Spaza shops provide many benefits to local communities, as they are usually the most convenient and closest to home. From providing goods that are needed to keep households running on the daily – such as cleaning supplies and food – to connectivity packages through the sale of airtime. Spaza shops are a vital component in the overall supply chain of consumer packaged goods (CPG). Thus, their involvement in communities provides valuable data for the supply chain in terms of demand and customer feedback.

What should spaza shops owners do for them to generate profits and to attract customers?

Spaza shops do not have the luxury of a loyal client base as pricing is vital and with many spazas in the same area with the same exposure to common communities, they have to ensure correct product mix and stock availability to ensure a steady income structure. To be able to grow and flourish, I believe that the spaza has to extend its offering beyond being the daily commodities trader. Hypothetically speaking, spaza shops have the capacity to play a larger role within communities, ultimately becoming a ‘central learning hub’ for community members. Technology has the power to achieve this. For example, there is the possibility for spaza shop owners to promote skills development by encouraging community members to make use of online/virtual skills development courses. This online learning content could be facilitated by the spaza shop owner, who can offer community members access to a secure and reliable education and skills development network where communities can engage with the content. This learning system could make use of incentive programs to reward those who complete skills development courses. Job creation is accelerated through education and CSI funds could be put to good use in education/upskilling within the bounds of the community

Does the government offer support to local business owners and if yes; how do they do it?

There are a number of key government investments being used to drive SME development as well as job creation. The use of the spaza as a key enabling point would go a long way to support these initiatives. The most prominent support relies on larger businesses and enterprises to support these communities through the form of Enterprise and Supplier Development. This core component of BBBEE requires supply chains to upskill smaller companies to become more prosperous and make an impact locally. It is up to enterprises to find smart and innovative ways to provide this support and empowerment.

With the ongoing spread of Covid, what should owners do to maintain their shops?

With Covid-19 still very much among us, spaza shop owners should continue to adhere to stringent protocols to limit the spread of the virus and to ensure that their customers remain comfortable and safe while shopping. The best way to maintain a shop during uncertain times is to reduce liability. One, through stock holdings, and two, through cash holding. So, asking their suppliers to find innovative, smart ways to deal with orders to help keep the right items replenished. While finding solutions to make sales easier to record while reducing cash transactions.

What are simple and affordable changes that local shop owners should put in place to maintain the sustainability of their businesses?

The spaza owner is by nature a mover and shaker, he/she is very aware of the community at large and will make sure that the shop is competitive from a price and availability perspective, I think the answer is more to do with how can we assist the spaza owner to create better financial literacy and basic business processes to support growth and profitable business practice.

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