Cape Town, 1 September 2020: Two local residents have realised their dreams to become business owners with the launch of their respective neighbourhood convenience Market stores in Langa.
Thembi Dike (49) welcomed customers to Thembi’s Market last Friday as she opened the doors to her own shop for the first time, while Bantu Ntshuntshe (40) launched his Nabe Market to the community on 21 August. In the process, they have also created new jobs and opportunities for locals.
The new stores form part of the Market Store Partnership with Independent Traders programme, which is a collaborative effort between Pick n Pay, the Western Cape Government and funding partners. Through the programme, local entrepreneurs are empowered with the necessary support to open, upgrade or expand their own store while remaining 100% independent. With the support from Pick n Pay, they run and operate their own store to serve the community’s needs.
Raised in retail, Thembi realised her dream to open her own grocery store.
Thembi Dike was one of the first aspiring entrepreneurs in the Western Cape to apply to be part of the programme. Growing up with a business-orientated family, Dike grasped the dynamics of a retail business at a young age, which have now been brought to bear with the opening of her business. “My family originally owned a butchery and a grocery store. From 1978 they ran one of the first petrol stations to be built in Gugulethu and I began working as a petrol attendant when I was in matric,” says Dike.
By 2015, Dike had worked her way up to manager status but left the business when her family decided to rent out the petrol station. She held various positions in retail until July this year when she quit her job as an account manager at a brewery to prepare for opening and running her own store.
Dike says her work experience means she is used to working long hours and is well versed with “the real world of retail ups and downs”.
Speaking excitedly about her new store, she explains that the location has special meaning. “The original owner, Mr Mkiva – who sadly passed away in July – ran a grocery store here for more than 40 years. When the store closed towards the end of 2018, I saw the opportunity to open my own store. The time wasn’t appropriate then but last year we came to a rental agreement for the building.”
The store has been upgraded with new refrigeration and IT systems, and now also boasts a hot foods counter, deli and butchery. “My mother, at age 70, is running the butchery as she has so much experience, but she is very strict as she always has to be precise.”
Dike’s daughter, Ntombehlubi (20) has also joined the business and is assisting her mom with the admin.
“The support from the community has been overwhelmingly positive,” she says and adds that she heard about this Pick n Pay-backed project from her former boss Vusi Vokwana, who is also the secretary of the Lagunya business association.
“Opening my own Market store is something I am very excited about as it will help in decreasing the rate of unemployment in my community, as well as uplifting it.” The new store has employed 13 permanent staff members from the local community.
“I would like to thank Pick n Pay for this opportunity, and the partners for the financial support they have given me, because without them this would all be a dream, but they have turned it into reality,” says Dike.
From Pick n Pay employee to independent owner of Nabe Market
Born and raised in Langa, Bantu Ntshuntshe (40) grew up 500 meters from his new store, Nabe Market, which opened on 21 August 2020.
“I used to shop here when I was a young boy,” explains Ntshuntshe. “From the 1970s, it was owned by a prominent black businesswoman but sadly she passed away a few years ago. When I was presented with the opportunity to open my own store, I loved the history of the site and asked the family to lease the property to me.”
It would seem Ntshuntshe was destined to operate in retail, although it was by chance he applied to join the Market store programme. “My grandmother ran a small spaza shop from a building at the back of our house from the early 1990s to early 2000. I worked there all the time during school holidays.
“I always knew I wanted to open my own business but I first wanted to learn the correct processes, especially from a company who has succeeded on a large scale. For 13 years I worked at Pick n Pay head office as a SAP Business Analyst.
“I closely followed the programme since it was piloted in Johannesburg in 2016, and two and a half years ago I applied to join the programme. During this time I closely shadowed the owner of Ndwamba Market in Nyanga to learn more. I left Pick n Pay at the end of May as we prepared to formally open my store this month.”
He is excited to serve his community who still recognise him from when he was a small kid. “My mother still stays in the community and is now running the store’s deli.” The store employs 20 people.
“The community support, especially on our opening day, was overwhelming. They are standing behind me and supporting my business,” says Ntshuntshe.
Empowering local entrepreneurs
The Market Store programme expanded to the Western Cape in 2017 after the successful pilot in Gauteng and to date, six Market stores have opened in Western Cape.
The partnership provides independent traders with access to Pick n Pay’s distribution channel, business systems and management mentorship, but the programme is unique in that all Market store owners remain 100% independent.
Minister David Maynier, Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, says “Entrepreneurs like Thembi Dike and Bantu Ntshuntshe are an inspiration, especially in these challenging times, and so we are proud to partner with Pick n Pay on their Market Store programme so that we can support more independent business owners to open their own stores in the Western Cape. These entrepreneurs play a critical role in creating jobs, supporting skills development and providing opportunities for those who need it most in their local communities.”
“This is a real partnership between the market store owner and Pick n Pay. We work closely alongside the owner to guide, support and mentor them so that they can successfully run and grow their business,” says Richard van Rensburg, chief information officer at Pick n Pay.
Each store is fitted with new refrigeration and IT systems and stocks more than 1,300 lines of edible and non-edible groceries, fresh produce and perishables. Services like money transfer, ticketing, airtime and data, bill payments, lottery tickets and prepaid electricity add to the convenience. Each store’s staff complement has also received expert training in IT systems, customer service, hygiene and more traditional retailing skills that open fresh opportunities for each of them.