Welkom, Virgina & Odendaalsrus in the Free State
Project Lead: Dr. Leif Petersen
Project Manager: Nathi Tshabalala
Funders & Partners: Amalgamated Beverage Industries (ABI), Office of the Free State Premier, Free State Department of Economic , Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DESTEA), Matjhabeng District Municipality, Telkom, Harambee, Enterpriseroom, and Coca Cola Foundation
Bizniz in a Box is an ABI funded entrepreneurial initiative intended to support emerging local entrepreneurs in the grocery retail sector. It is implemented by a range of project partners and involves the selection, training, participation and eventual economic independence of a wide cross section of township youth between the ages of 18 and 30.
SLF was contracted by ABI in September 2015 as Monitors & Evaluators of the Project. Prior to commencement with evaluation, SLF conducted a Baseline Study, in line with the FIME methodology, into scope and scale of the Thabong township microenterprise study which gives an important context to the local informal economy trade and the scope and scale of the grocery market in the area. SLF will not just be evaluators of the project but will also provide inputs based on the experience and expertise in working within the township economy space, especially the spaza sector. SLF understands the ‘blind spots’ and will offer practical solutions, e.g. dealing with contraband tobacco.
The projected screened over 2 000 youths in the three townships of Thabong, Kutlwanong and Meloding outside of Welkom, Odendaalsrus and Virginia respectively in the Free State. 68 participants made the final cut and were taken through a boot-camp training session to equip them with skills to run spaza shops from specially designed containers and compete with the foreign nationals.
Due to the complications in this multi-stakeholder partnership, the project has not become fully functional as originally envisaged. The delay in local government issuing trading permits has meant that no containers could be rolled to date, a delay of more than six months. This has resulted in an elongated immersion phase where participants have had to share the task of running 3 containers. Up to 40 participants worked on a roster basis as part of the training. This has had unintended consequences where over 20 participants disengaged from the project mostly to seek employment and/or study further.
Current participants have been removed from the containers and placed in a training programme while attempts to acquire permits from the municipality are on-going. SLF conducts monthly field visits and makes reports available to ABI via email and on a quarterly basis makes presentations to the ABI team in Johannesburg.