Now that we have concluded all of the fieldwork from our project, we are left with a unique body of knowledge and experience. While we are by no means experts on working with spaza shops, we have generated many ideas and insights into working with them, particularly in Monwabisi Park. The following section synthesizes some of our ideas in to recommendations for actions that may be taken to further strengthen the spaza market.

  • Extend Shop-Net programme to all spaza shop owners

Out of the one-hundred shops mapped, eleven of the shops were able to sign up for the Shop-Net programme. Due to time constraints our team was not able to attempt to recruit all of them, and there are still many shops in Monwabisi Park that would potentially be interested in signing up for Shop-Net. We recommend the TTO works with the newly formed Monwabisi Park spaza association and use the map we have created to walk around Monwabisi Park and recruit more shop owners.

  • Implement a referral program to increase membership in Shop-Net.
Shop owner selling fruit and vegetables

Shop owner selling fruit and vegetables

In order for the Shop-Net programme to expand, the team recommends the TTO to implement a referral programme among current Shop-Net members in which they can recommend potential shop owners in their area who they feel would benefit from signing up for the programme. If their referral leads the person to join the programme, the shop owner can receive an incentive. This type of referral programme can help TTO recruiters to quickly identify and assist interested shop owners, and will save them work by having the shop owners recruit for them.

  • Fund a local liaison to recruit spaza shops to join Shop-Net and to inform them of training opportunities.

In terms of communicating with shop owners, it was pivotal for our team to utilize co-researchers, personable members within the community who are familiar with the area and various people throughout the settlement. Our team recommends recruiting co-researchers with the same or better skill sets in implementing the Shop-Net programme. They can help in quickly building trust between spaza shop owners and the TTO recruiter.

  • Expand the range of goods available to Shop-Net members.

In conducting the mapping exercise of spaza shops in Monwabisi Park, twenty of the one-hundred shops we identified sold fruit and/or vegetables. For some of these shops, selling fruit and vegetables accounts for a majority of shop sales. Shop-Net currently does not provide fruit and vegetables for shop owners to purchase, so to help shop owners increase their buying power, it would be useful for Shop-Net to begin offering fruit and vegetables. Currently shop owners still have to hire private transportation and travel far to specific fruit and vegetable markets, such as Epping, in order to stay competitive. By offering this major category of goods, it would reduce the hassle of shop owners dealing with multiple sources when purchasing stock. It would also allow Shop-Net to expand to shops that specifically sell fruit and vegetables.

  • Provide easier access to capital.

The most commonly identified issues by spaza shop owners were infrastructure problems due to lack of access to capital, and this could be addressed by allowing shop owners to get loans. Several shop owners expressed an interest in acquiring a loan to improve their shop. The loans would help them expand  their range of stock and make structural improvements to make their shops more presentable and attractive to potential customers. The TTO can be an effective third-party in introducing Shop-Net spaza shop owners to financial institutions that would be able to provide loans. If a loan is approved for a particular shop owner, the TTO can follow up with the shop owner to make sure that the loan funds are being invested properly.

Another way to provide financing to shops is through encouraging some sort of revolving loan system between shop owners.  The shop owners could put a set small amount of money into a communal pot on a monthly basis, which could then be lent out to specific community members as needed.  Since shop owners would be extremely hesitant to donate money, it would be important to fully explain to them the benefits of the programme.  The programme would also be more effective if it were voluntary.  It would be important to have a rigid timetable for paying them back, and a predetermined maximum loan amount.

  • Diffuse tensions between South African and Somali spaza shop owners.

We believe that the Triple Trust Organisation should make an effort to work with foreign shop owners, particularly Somali spaza shop owners. In understanding the spaza market in Monwabisi Park, there were a number of Somali-operated spaza shops. From our initial observations of these shops, they seem to be well-organized and successful shops that clearly know how to run a small business. These shop owners should not be treated as a threat but as a potential partner in cooperating with local spaza shop owners. In order for this effort to be made successful, it would require a translator who can speak both Somali and Xhosa.

  • Conduct research on consumer buying preferences.

We also recommend further exploration of consumer buying tendencies.  Spaza shops participating in Shop-Net mostly sell their goods at lower prices than large retailers, however consumers still shop at these large retailers.  There is room to explore different methods for getting more people to shop at the spaza shops.  One potential option for this could be a buying local campaign.