In the market for change

Adapting business solutions to local circumstances.

In Umbazwane, there aren’t shopping malls, but this small complex is as close to one as you’ll find in rural KZN. There is no supermarket, just a SPAR (convenience store) and a few other small shops. Chinese owned shops are beginning to pop up, but other than that – the business done here is through informal markets like this one.

You can buy fruit and veg, brooms, matches, and other items. The problem is, a lot of the people are selling the same thing at the same price. A couple of stalls will be selling tomatoes, or brooms, with no competition. Their supplier is the same, their product is the same, their marketing and location is the same and the only advantage, is whether a potential customer approaches to their stall first. This scenario is the same throughout KZN, and in fact throughout much of Africa. Curio’s are mostly sourced from the same supplier, and prices are fixed.

This is why the training that Let Us Work is providing is important. We would like to teach rural people how to do business in a way that not only benefits them, but their community. Teach them a little about market research, buying from each other to support local business, and how to make the best of their capital.

In one of the regions we’ve been conducting workshops, one of the trainees came up with the idea of raising and selling chickens. The problem is, rural micro-business cannot hope to compete with the massive chicken farmers, who have every process and space streamlined to make the most profit, with the least amount of spending. A better way to do business, is to rather add value to the product. At the end of the training, the idea had evolved into: raising and marketing organically fed, free range “Emvelo” chickens that are larger and healthier, and then cook them, with spices etc as take away food. Although there is chicken available in the convenience store for a very competitive price, there is no chicken take-away in the area. This is the kind of thinking that we try to encourage! We also have many businesses that involve green ideas. We will be posting more on that soon!