Spazas can spark growth

By Andrew Dawson | 6 April 2022 | Published on News24

Spaza shops are the heart and soul of several communities – and they have the potential to be so much more.

Mobile technology solutions can help these traders grow their trading marketplace and become self-sustainable.

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

One of the focuses for technology solutions is delivering improved ordering and stock management systems to enable spazas to have more product availability. These platforms have the potential to expand from a business-to-business offering to a business-to-community offering. They can be used as hubs of education, job creation and self-empowerment.

The technology is there, but we need a change in mindset from just enabling the marketplace to showing communities the direct positive impact that technology can have.

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; a compliance process that holds up business if it is not complete.

We need to embrace the spirit of these initiatives and change the narrative around them so that we can bring the community back into focus, thereby having a positive impact on communities.

There are unique ways in which this funding can help empower and nurture merchants, giving them a platform where they can study mobile-friendly courseware on entrepreneurship, finance, merchandising and sales to help them run a better business.

Existing technology platforms can be utilised to enable spaza shop owners to better support their communities.

A mind shift is needed for sustainable growth and development. We need to become more altruistic in the way we approach the channel – it is not about pushing product, but about creating community support. This will, in turn, drive sales if it is done in the right way.

We need to work towards creating channels to allow funding from mandatory initiatives to start targeting our vulnerable communities. This is the only way to start making a meaningful difference.

We need to bring the real spirit of ubuntu back to Africa. It is not just a catchy buzzword like B-BBEE has become, but a movement that means so much more.

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