The goal of our project was to help spaza shops to grow into sus-tainable and financially stable micro-enterprises in Monwabisi Park by studying the existing spaza market in the area, then adapting the Triple Trust Organisation’s Shop-Net pro-gramme to Monwabisi Park, facilitat-ing business skills training for spaza shop owners, and coordinating the formation of a Monwabisi Park spaza association. In order to meet this goal, our team defined several objectives to accomplish. They were:

  1. Understand the spaza market in Monwabisi Park through a mapping exercise.
  2. Identify needs and concerns of spaza shop owners.
  3. Assess business practices of spaza shop owners.
  4. Assist the TTO in applying their Shop-Net and capacity building programmes.
  5. Increase communication and cooperation between shop owners in Khayelitsha.


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Map of Monwabisi Park

Hand and GPS Mapping

We set about mapping the shops on paper. Our team printed out Google satellite images of the four sections of Monwabisi Park. Then, with the assistance of co-researchers, we walked through each section. Our team started mapping in M-section, and then progressed through C, B, and A sections. While we walked, one team member used the maps, and another created a numbered list of spaza shops. Other team members carried notebooks to record observations regarding the physical appearance of the shop, and brief impressions on the size, range of goods, and apparent level of success of the shop. After we spent several days mapping, we acquired a hand-held GPS device that we borrowed from our sponsor, the TTO. The GPS proved incredibly useful by improving the accuracy of the maps.

Learn more about the mapping exercise.

Informal Conversations

The other aspect of our mapping exercise was holding informal conversations with the spaza shop owners as we encountered them. There were some general questions that we would casually ask them in the course of our conversation. In order to better organize and analyze the data we gathered from the mapping phase, we input all of data in to a Microsoft Excel spread sheet.

Learn more about the informal conversations the team had with spaza shop owners.


Key Informant Interviews

We conducted detailed interviews with a smaller selection of spaza shops. The interviews aimed to obtain more in depth information about the spaza shops, while still avoiding sensitive topics such as specific financial information. We conducted interviews until the information gathered became repetitive, and we were not hearing any new information. Key data gathered from the interviews was input to a Microsoft Excel spread sheet so that we could more easily sort and compare information.

Key areas we asked questions in were:

  • History of the Shop
  • Future Plans
  • Problems Faced (Credit Issues)
  • Record Keeping
  • Business Training
  • Supply Chain
  • Views on Competition and Cooperation with other spaza shops

Learn more about key informant interviews.

Focus Group Discussion

We held a focus group discussion with five spaza shop owners in order to:

  • Confirm data gathered and conclusions drawn from interviews and observations of spaza shops in Monwabisi Park.
  • Gauge the interest of shop owners in signing up for TTO programs, specifically capacity building sessions and Shop-Net.
  • Gauge the willingness of shop owners to cooperate with each other for a mutual benefit.
Shop owners eating after the focus group discussion

Shop owners eating after the focus group discussion

We decided that the twelve shops whom we had interviewed in the previous phase of our project would be ideal candidates to participate in the discussion. These shop owners demonstrated through their interviews their willingness to speak about their shops and the issues they were facing. For the discussion we employed the expertise of two co-researchers in order to assist with translation during the meeting.

Learn more about the focus group discussion.


Shop-Net and Capacity Building Information Session

Our first step was to hold an informational session for spaza shop owners. The purpose of this meeting was to give shop owners more detailed information about both TTO programmes, and sign shop owners up for one or both services. A representative from the TTO, Stanley Hendricks, traveled to Monwabisi Park and led the meeting, which lasted about three hours. We invited everyone who attended our FGD, everyone we had interviewed, and then a number of other spaza shops who we had positive, encounters with. We invited twenty seven shops because we wanted a large turnout at the meeting to generate as much interest as possible.

Capacity Building

Business training session

Business training session

The three-day business training was completely planned and run by Stanley. Our only role was to secure the room in the Indlovu Centre, and set up and clean up the room every day, as well as assist with any logistical issues that arose. In the morning before the first two days of the training session, our team also texted and called the shop owners who had signed up to remind them of the time for the business training.


Monwabisi Park Spaza Association Meeting

Inception of the Monwabisi Park Spaza Association

Inception of the Monwabisi Park Spaza Association

The final phase of our project was to attempt to facilitate the formation of an association of spaza shop owners in Monwabisi Park. From past research we strongly felt that increasing communication between spaza shop owners would benefit them all, and providing them with opportunities to collaborate with each other would also stimulate economic growth in the area. In addition, creating this association would provide the TTO and anyone else interested in working with the spaza shops of Monwabisi Park a centralized point of contact. Finally, creating an ongoing forum of cooperation between the shops was another way we attempted to ensure that the spaza shops in Monwabisi Park would continue to grow, develop, and progress after we left and our project was over.

In order to develop this association, we held another meeting to discuss how the shop owners in Monwabisi Park could work with each other to derive mutual benefits. We scheduled this meeting for December 9th, and we held it in a VPUU centre in the neighboring settlement of Harare.

Learn more about the further logistics and results from the meeting.

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Working with a co-researcher


The co-researchers were vital in interacting with the shop owners because they would often act as translators for our group. Before going out with the co-researchers we explained the purpose and goals of our project to them so that they would be better prepared to assist us in speaking with the spazas.   The co researchers also provided invaluable insight into the culture, and help us to ensure no cultural barriers were crossed. Ultimately our co researcher ended up being just as knowledgeable about or project as we were, and was able to provide another valuable opinion on our project.