The Big Issue Goes Online: Creating a Vendor-Run Profiling Program

A Big Issue Vendor On His Pitch

Big Issue Vendor On His Pitch

The Big Issue is a non-governmental, not-for-profit street paper. Street papers are newspapers or magazines that are published to be sold by homeless, unemployed, and/or socially marginalized individuals, called vendors. Street papers give vendors employment opportunities and a chance to take charge of their own lives and advance their careers. Vendors sell the magazine on their pitch, a particular spot around Cape Town that they apply for. The street paper model is self-help driven; vendors are essentially their own bosses and become micro-entrepreneurs responsible for their own success. Big Issue vendors buy the magazines at half the cover price then sell it at full price, keeping the difference plus any tips, providing them “a hand up, not a hand out.”

Our team collaborated with The Big Issue South Africa to advance their new online marketplace. These are profile pages focused on the vendors of The Big Issue that allow them to sell online while sharing stories and pictures of their daily lives. Working closely with a group of “Vendors of the Month” as our co-researchers, we piloted a vendor-run profile program. We developed a mentoring and training program aimed at the development of online vendor profiles. Items created to assist in the website development included guides and worksheets that mentors and vendors can update together. We worked with vendor mentors who carried out the responsibility of working with other vendors to explain these worksheets, update its content, and gain valuable input from other vendors with great success.

Learn More:

Read our Executive Summary and peruse our other documents in The Resource Library.

You can contact our team for more information at (Expires June 2016).

You can also contact the Cape Town Project Centre by emailing