Kasi businesses have always played a significant role within the South African economy, as they offer world-class goods and services that meet various social- and economic needs within township communities. In fact, the township economy is worth more than R400 billion. There is a massive opportunity to unlock the potential for these businesses to grow so that they become instrumental in helping to create more local job opportunities and contribute more meaningfully to the economy.
Development and investment in these businesses, be it a spaza shop, hair salon, Shisa Nyama etc. provides the private sector with access to a vast untapped market and customer base. For example, local Spaza shops contribute a whopping 5.2% to South Africa’s GDP, while employing 2.6 million South Africans, according to the 2021 South African Township Marketing Report published by RogerWilco. The offerings (products and services) of many of these businesses go on to become renowned brands within the national and international arenas. This is evident in local businesses such as footwear brands Bathu and Drip, as well as denim brand TSHEPO Jeans. Bathu founder Theo Baloyi last month opened the brand’s 31st local retail outlet.
“Through our recently launched #ItsWithin campaign, the Castle Lager brand will be contributing towards beautifying Johannesburg and uplifting local businesses to the benefit of the township economy — all while paying tribute to South African communities. Investing in these businesses could offer the solution to a crisis that is currently at its precipice in our country, namely that of unemployment, since this kind of local investment can provide entrepreneurs with the platform, they need to bring more opportunities to the areas that they operate in, while enabling them to provide a livelihood for themselves and others,” explains Castle Lager Brand Director, Wendy Bedforth.
The entrepreneurial drive of the kasi business owners has resulted in the growth of entrepreneurship in the Kasi economy. These businesses are not only playing a vital role in assisting to tackle the country’s unemployment crisis, but they are also paying it forward, since many businesses use community members as partners or suppliers.
Rita Zwane, owner of Imbizo Shisanyama Franchises, for highlighted the importance of supporting these kasi businesses through her journey to entrepreneurial greatness that started with humble beginnings 25 years ago: “Imbizo Shisanyama (then called Busy Corner) was established a quarter century ago and grew exponentially thanks to the support of the community of Tembisa, as customers and community members went out and spread its story and quality offerings through word of mouth.”
Zwane adds that, “Our success feels great, especially when you see mothers that you had empowered along the way through your proudly South African township business; supply you with items such as chakalaka or dumplings. Links such as these over time form into a Shisa Nyama ecosystem whereby you have many businesses around your own like a car wash or hairsalon.”
DJ Sbu, might be renowned across the country as a TV and Radio Personality, Producer, and DJ, but he is also a prominent businessman as well.
He summed up the entrepreneurial drive that pushes many to start their own ventures as follows: “We grow up thinking the fire is outside and must come and save us, when in actual fact the fire – that burning desire to be more, create a business, support our family – #ITSWITHIN us. When we support these township businesses, we enable that fire to spark and light up Mzansi with optimism and belief in a better and more prosperous tomorrow.”
Bedford adds to this, stating, “Providing businesses with skills, platforms, and other forms of support they need in order to equip entrepreneurs with the critical skill they require to run a successful business has the potential payoff of seeing the township economy grow exponentially. This is because through that level of support these township businesses are brought closer to mainstream economic opportunities, and we help bridge the disconnected urban and peri-urban class divides and promote convergence between the formal and informal economies. As Castle Lager, we want to ensure the success of these businesses to help ensure the rebuilding of the country, economy, business confidence, and most of all – hope.”