How technology can help spaza shops

By Andrew Dawson | 7 March 2022 | Published by Daily News

SPAZA shops are the heart and soul of many communities, and they have the potential to be so much more, thanks to technology. Mobile technology solutions can help these traders not only move more toward a more advanced trading market place, but also help them to become increasingly self-sustainable, spreading this into the communities at large.

Sustainability, humanitarian growth, and giving back to communities are becoming increasingly important topics of conversation. We need to look at ways of leveraging the technology we already have to help these community hearts and centres to become the pivot point for economic growth and development in South Africa.

One of the focuses for current technology solutions is on delivering improved ordering and stock management systems to help spazas have better and more product availability. While this is important in helping them to serve their communities with goods, there is far more power in the technology.

These platforms have the potential to expand from a business to business to a business to community offering that offers untold opportunities. They can be used as hubs of education, job creation, and self-empowerment.

The technology is there, but what we need is a change in mindset, from simply enabling the marketplace to showing the communities the direct positive impact that technology can have on their lives. We need to start engaging on the level of the ‘community place’ instead of just the market place.

It’s not about ticking boxes Enterprise and supplier development is an essential component of doing business in South Africa, as is Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE). The problem is that they have become tick-box exercises, simply a compliance process that holds up a business if it is not complete.

We need to take a step back and embrace the spirit of these initiatives, change the narrative around them so that we can bring the community back into focus and have an actual positive impact.

There are unique ways that this funding can help empower and nurture merchants, giving them a platform where they can go and study mobile-friendly courseware on entrepreneurship, finance, merchandising, sales, and other tools. This can be delivered through existing technology platforms, enabling spaza owners to better support their communities, with a positive spin-off effect to the community.

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