Delft cash­ing-in on wi-fi shop plat­form

Com­mu­nity’s econ­omy is start­ing to take off with new op­por­tu­ni­ties

Cape Argus - - BUSINESS - Joseph Booy­sen joseph.booy­sen@inl.co.za

THE Western Cape gov­ern­ment’s roll-out of pub­lic wifi in Delft has led to the rise of tech busi­nesses ben­e­fit­ing lo­cal res­i­dents by gen­er­at­ing em­ploy­ment and re­sult­ing in them re­tain­ing a big­ger slice of the com­mu­nity’s es­ti­mated R300 mil­lion monthly spend.

Home of Com­pas­sion Min­istries is us­ing in­ter­net ac­cess to con­nect res­i­dents to the new econ­omy with of­fer­ings in on­line shop­ping, pay­ment sys­tems and trans­port.

Eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties MEC Alan Winde vis­ited Home of Com­pas­sion yes­ter­day, which was one of the NPOs (non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions) se­lected by the De­part­ment of Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment and Tourism to ac­cess grant fund­ing to set up lim­ited free wi-fi zones in places with poor in­ter­net ac­cess.

Since 2013, Home of Com­pas­sion had been on a con­certed drive to bring more res­i­dents and busi­nesses on­line and es­tab­lished the Mzansi Dig­i­tal Trust to develop ini­tia­tives around boost­ing wi-fi con­nec­tiv­ity.

Winde said the Mzansi Dig­i­tal Trust show­cased the power of con­nec­tiv­ity.

“Home of Com­pas­sion has built new of­fer­ings on the back of our wi-fi in­vest­ment into Delft and this is ide­ally what we would like to see in more com­mu­ni­ties. Res­i­dents are now linked to the new econ­omy and can par­tic­i­pate in this dig­i­tal econ­omy. This is an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of how tech­nol­ogy can im­prove lives.”

Winde said the project formed part of the Western Cape gov­ern­ment’s plan to con­nect more res­i­dents to af­ford­able in­ter­net, while in an­other ini­tia­tive the Pub­lic Ac­cess project with Neo­tel has seen the in­stal­la­tion of 150 hotspots, with 250 new users sign­ing up to the ser­vice daily.

Charles Ge­orge, chair­per­son for the Mzansi group, said the or­gan­i­sa­tion hoped to cre­ate about 6 000 lo­cal jobs over 18 months in a con­cept pi­lot known as Mzansi Dig­i­tal Repub­lic.

Ge­orge said when the or­gan­i­sa­tion cre­ated the Flash con­cept, which al­lows ven­dors such as spaza-shop own­ers to sell air­time, it gen­er­ated about 600 000 jobs na­tion­wide.

Aubrey Botha, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Mzantsi Dig­i­tal Trust, said the or­gan­i­sa­tion was get­ting 148 000 hits daily on the net­work.

“Around 1 000 peo­ple would gather around the Spar con­nect­ing to the free wi-fi and so­cial­is­ing. We had a cap­tive and con­nected au­di­ence and we re­alised the po­ten­tial in this plat­form.”

Botha said re­search found that the ma­jor­ity of the monthly house­hold in­come in Delft was flow­ing out of the com­mu­nity.

“Fig­ures showed there were 39 000 house­holds in Delft, with about two or three fam­i­lies on each erf and that each fam­ily had an av­er­age monthly in­come of R3 800. That means there’s R300m flow­ing through this area each month, but not much of it stays in­side Delft.”

Botha added that be­tween 60% and 90% of the monthly spend was on re­tail, pre­dom­i­nantly at ma­jor re­tail­ers, re­sult­ing in the money leav­ing the com­mu­nity.

He said in re­sponse, Home of Com­pas­sion launched an on­line plat­form, Jam Jar, to al­low res­i­dents to or­der from small shops in the area, while lo­cal en­trepreneur­s also com­peted at the busi­ness in­cu­ba­tor to start up their own stores.

“Through a part­ner­ship with a whole­saler, Cape Basic Prod­ucts, goods are sold to store own­ers at a dis­counted rate, keep­ing prices lower. A gogo would have to travel to Mitchells Plain for meat, then to Bel­lville for fruit and veg­eta­bles. While you think you are bar­gain-hunt­ing, the goods are adding up. With our plat­form, we guar­an­tee res­i­dents the low­est prices for food.”

Botha said there were 12 000 res­i­dents us­ing the plat­form, where they bought their goods in­side the vir­tual mall and the store owner re­ceives the or­der and pack­ages it for the res­i­dent to col­lect.

An­other plan is in the pipe­line to bring lo­cal taxi drivers on board to de­liver goods to res­i­dents.

“Our plat­form has an au­to­matic built-in sav­ings wal­let. When you buy a prod­uct, the store puts a por­tion of what you have spent back into your wal­let. Once a cer­tain amount is reached, the user is able to buy goods in the area. In this way we in­vest in Delft,” he pointed out.

PIC­TURE: MICHAEL WALKER

MAK­ING A DIF­FER­ENCE: Eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties MEC Alan Winde says wi-fi con­nec­tiv­ity is em­pow­er­ing Delft res­i­dents.

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