Of shop­ping for Khayelit­sha

CityPress - - Business - ALDI SCHOEMAN busi­ness@city­press.co.za

Gro­cery shop­ping may get cheaper thanks to a new ven­ture that helps peo­ple buy in bulk.

This busi­ness, Lakheni, shops on be­half of res­i­dents of Khayelit­sha in Cape Town at the end of ev­ery month.

Nok­wethu Kho­jane, one of the co-founders of the busi­ness, said Lakheni’s clients pay be­tween 20% and 40% less than usual for their gro­ceries be­cause of saved trans­port costs and bulk buy­ing.

“Res­i­dents of low-in­come ar­eas some­times pay more than other peo­ple for ser­vices and goods be­cause the in­fra­struc­ture isn’t prop­erly de­vel­oped, and peo­ple have to travel long dis­tances to get to shops.

“In the Western Cape, for ex­am­ple, 40% of res­i­dents live in low-in­come com­mu­ni­ties. Only 10% of the su­per­mar­kets in the prov­ince cater for th­ese com­mu­ni­ties.”

Trans­port costs make it an ex­pen­sive ex­cur­sion – the con­sumer must pay for the taxi trip to the shops, and then pay for two seats on the re­turn trip so the gro­cery bags can be ac­com­mo­dated.

Kho­jane and her part­ner, Lau­ren Drake, re­alised peo­ple could save a lot of money if they did not have to pay for trans­port. In ad­di­tion, they could get dis­counts for buy­ing in bulk.

So the pair started shop­ping on be­half of peo­ple 18 months ago.

To reach as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble in a short space of time, they fo­cused on places where peo­ple al­ready tended to con­gre­gate, such as crèches, youth groups or women’s groups.

They gather shop­ping lists from clients and buy ev­ery­thing from wash­ing pow­der to sugar at Makro, Jumbo and 1Up.

They do their re­search and shop around to find the best prices and deals.

Once ev­ery­thing has been pur­chased, they drop the shop­ping off at spec­i­fied de­liv­ery points – mostly créches – that are within walk­ing dis­tance of most fam­i­lies’ homes.

In fact, their pas­sion for help­ing crèches gave Kho­jane and Drake the idea for the busi­ness.

“We were MBA stu­dents to­gether and wanted to work at crèches to ad­vance child­hood devel­op­ment,” said Kho­jane.

“Then we re­alised that the women there were a lot bet­ter at it than we were. What they did need was a re­li­able source of in­come.”

The crèches now earn a com­mis­sion for ev­ery per­son they re­fer to Lakheni.

The busi­ness be­gan with five “buy­ing groups” and there are now 98 in Khayelit­sha. They hope to have 200 groups by the end of the year.

Kho­jane said that one of the big­gest lessons she learnt was not to think of low-in­come com­mu­ni­ties as places where noth­ing worked.

“The op­po­site is true. We wouldn’t be where we are now if it wasn’t for the things that do work. What works is that peo­ple sup­port each other and they have a net­work.”

The sec­ond-big­gest les­son was not to wait for ev­ery­thing to be per­fect be­fore they be­gan the busi­ness.

“Just start. You only see the changes you need to make when you be­gin,” she said.

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