Siyeza – a boost to town­ship pros­per­ity

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - Be­van Jones Be­van Jones is the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Siyeza.

GIV­ING back to the com­mu­nity through its phil­an­thropic projects is what Thebe Foun­da­tion Com­pany (a wholly owned sub­sidiary of the Thebe De­vel­op­ment Foun­da­tion) has built its es­teemed rep­u­ta­tion for its ground break­ing strate­gic phi­lan­thropy over 22 years.

In 2016 the Thebe Foun­da­tion es­tab­lished Siyeza, a unique com­mu­nity based re­tail dis­tri­bu­tion con­cept aimed at driv­ing pros­per­ity through shared lo­cal com­mu­nity val­ues and by redefin­ing the value chain within the com­plex eco­nomic and so­cial town­ship en­vi­ron­ment.

Siyeza is an en­tre­pre­neur de­vel­op­ment fran­chise tai­lored specif­i­cally for the town­ship de­mog­ra­phy; to em­power, build and de­velop com­mu­nity from the ground up­wards. It started its first dis­tri­bu­tion hub in the Ekurhu­leni town­ships of Katho­rus, (Katle­hong, Thokoza & Vosloorus) sup­port­ing sev­eral en­tre­pre­neur­ial co-op­er­a­tives that utilise Siyeza’s buying power to de­liver af­ford­able gro­ceries and fresh pro­duce to cus­tomers via Tuk-Tuk ve­hi­cles.

Cus­tomers range from house­holds, spaza shops, town­ship busi­nesses, crèches, churches and other com­mu­nity groups that ben­e­fit from sav­ings in trans­port and re­duced down­time. Siyeza en­trepreneurs gen­er­ate their own in­come from sales and are also trusted brand am­bas­sadors.

Each hub is able to reach around 300 000 cus­tomers and em­ploys around four peo­ple di­rectly for peo­ple hub man­ager, buyer, me­chanic and ad­min­is­tra­tive staff, while de­vel­op­ing any­where from 15 to 30 pre­vi­ously un­em­ployed youth. These en­trepreneurs are or­gan­ised into pri­mary co-op­er­a­tives with two ve­hi­cles (plus backup if needed) ded­i­cated to each co-op­er­a­tive.

Sus­tain­abil­ity

The fi­nan­cial suc­cess of Siyeza also con­trib­utes to en­sure the sus­tain­abil­ity of the Thebe Foun­da­tion to ful­fil its man­date of sup­port­ing the poor and dis­ad­van­taged.

Siyeza has turned the chal­lenges of the legacy of sup­press­ing the de­vel­op­ment of town­ship busi­nesses, the un­re­lent­ing in­come inequal­ity in South African so­ci­ety and high rate of un­em­ploy­ment in town­ships into an op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate a shared value plat­form to de­velop life and busi­ness skills. In so do­ing it is en­sur­ing the long-term sus­tain­abil­ity and growth of town­ship com­mu­ni­ties.

Siyeza’s busi­ness model thus also ben­e­fits from “umuntu ngu­muntu nga­bantu”, by the com­mu­nity for the ben­e­fit of the com­mu­nity. Its core busi­ness strat­egy is bal­anced so­cial part­ner­ship be­tween profit mak­ing busi­nesses that are an in­te­gral part of a healthy com­mu­nity ecosys­tem.

By sell­ing on credit to cer­tain cus­tomers Siyeza un­locks ac­cess to much needed work­ing cap­i­tal, al­low­ing these busi­nesses to scale up and grow faster.

Siyeza also main­tains a train­ing and de­vel­op­ment cen­tre within each dis­tri­bu­tion hub, func­tion­ing both to train Siyeza en­trepreneurs and also in­cu­bate and sup­port lo­cal busi­nesses.

This sup­port in­cludes guid­ing, men­tor­ing, up-skilling in fi­nan­cial man­age­ment, busi­ness skills and tech­nol­ogy, and pass­ing on valu­able life skills to town­ship en­trepreneurs. By “buying lo­cal” and cre­at­ing lo­calised value chains, Siyeza can cir­cu­late the town­ship rand sev­eral times over and thus grow and keep the wealth in the com­mu­nity.

Fur­ther­more, in work­ing with SA cor­po­rates keen to ac­cess the town­ship econ­omy, Siyeza is able to keep town­ship con­sumers bet­ter in­formed through trusted mar­ket­ing, fi­nan­cial and other ser­vices.

Some of Siyeza’s cur­rent lo­cal dis­tri­bu­tion part­ners are Boko­mosa, a women’s co-op­er­a­tive trained to pro­duce the ex­tremely pop­u­lar Kom­bucha iced tea with sig­nif­i­cant health ben­e­fits known world­wide. M-JUS is a dy­namic berry juice man­u­fac­turer also based in Katho­rus, east of Jo­han­nes­burg. An emerg­ing Orange Farm en­tre­pre­neur has also used Siyeza’s at­trac­tive pric­ing to start her own mini­hub and Fast-Mov­ing Con­sumer Goods sup­ply busi­ness in the area; and an em­pow­ered lo­cal driver is con­tracted to sup­ply Orange Farm from the Katho­rus hub.

Siyeza has proven the suc­cess of its busi­ness model in Ekurhu­leni and will con­tinue to de­velop fur­ther town­ship mar­ket such as Tem­bisa, Um­lazi and Mdantsane.

There is also lim­it­less po­ten­tial for growth in lo­cal small sup­pli­ers as well as or­ganic farm­ing co-op­er­a­tives with lo­calised agro-pro­cess­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion.

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