May 2021 1st edition

Spaza shops go digital

Written by Kgaogelo Letsebe

Free State residents and the founders of tech company Next Curve Creations - Tumi Letsaba, Kgomotso Sebitlo, Ditjhaba Selemela and Bandile Ntombela - have created a mobile app that will help spaza shop owners operate more efficiently.

Called Progressive Creations, the app is intended to help store owners unite to benefit from bulk buying. It will also help individual owners keep better inventory records.

At present, the app is being tested among a closed user group of spaza shop owners in Frankfort.

“We realised that retailers struggle with gaining access to fast-moving consumer goods manufacturers and to organise themselves to access manufacturers.

“After many casual chats with local owners in Namahadi, Frankfort, we decided to create a platform that would improve their business," says Letsaba

The app will help owners contain expenses and increase access to the marketplace.

A study by the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation and the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies showed that spaza shops are critical contributors to local food security, self-employment and community cohesion.

However, after surveying 1 100 township grocery retailers across all nine provinces, the study found that the sector has undergone extensive change and owners are battling to adapt.

Being a group of young men experienced in tech, finance and business, Letsaba says they view the app as the best way forward.

“The app offers township businesses an opportunity to adapt to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Technology has a huge impact on our daily lives and to keep up with current trends, we believe that our people need the opportunity to adapt.”

The app has barcode-scanning capabilities which will assist with proper stocktaking.

“When someone buys a certain item, you can scan the barcode and it will update the stock. You’ll be able to view sales and stock levels.”

The team – which has now been granted an opportunity to be part of the Black Umbrellas, a body that seeks to develop, mobilise and connect entrepreneurs - aims to launch the app across the country once it has been refined.


Rural development
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