Siyeza, established by the Thebe Foundation in 2016, is an entrepreneur development franchise tailored specifically for the township demographic with a special focus on empowering, building and developing the township community from a grass roots level. This unique, community-based retail distribution concept, started its first distribution hub in the Ekurhuleni townships of Kathorus, (Katlehong, Thokoza and Vosloorus) supporting several entrepreneurial co-operatives that utilise Siyeza’s buying power to deliver affordable groceries and fresh produce to customers via Tuk-Tuk vehicles.
Customers range from households, spaza shops, township businesses, crèches, churches and other community groups that benefit from savings in transport and reduced downtime. Siyeza entrepreneurs are able to generate their own income from sales and are also trusted brand ambassadors for FMCG suppliers trying to gain a footprint into the township market. The branded Tuk-Tuk vehicles offer a constant brand and marketing presence and the brand ambassadors are capable of product promotions, activations, direct market research and feedback for these brands.
Each hub is able to reach around 300 000 customers and employs around four people directly while developing anywhere from 15 to 30 previously unemployed youth. These entrepreneurs are organised into primary co-operatives with two Tuk-Tuk vehicles (plus backup if needed) dedicated to each co-operative. By selling on credit to certain customers Siyeza unlocks access to much needed working capital, allowing these businesses to scale up and grow faster.
Siyeza, established by the Thebe Foundation in 2016, is an entrepreneur development franchise tailored specifically for the township demographic with a special focus on empowerment within the township community
Each distribution hub boasts a training and development centre which functions in 2 ways- to train the Siyeza entrepreneurs as well as to incubate and support local businesses within that specific community.
This support includes guiding, mentoring, up-skilling in financial management, business skills and technology, and passing on valuable life skills to township entrepreneurs. By “buying local” and creating localised value chains, Siyeza can circulate the township rand several times over and thus grow and keep the wealth in the community.
While Siyeza aims to be self-funding, it also works with external funders and strategic partners to develop these township businesses to become sustainably profitable and ready for the next level of growth. Also, in working with South African corporates keen to access the township economy, Siyeza is able to keep township consumers better informed through trusted marketing, financial and other services.
Siyeza’s business model thus also benefits from “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”, by the community for the benefit of the community and highlights the power of strengthening the township community economy through co-operative empowerment.
Some of Siyeza’s current local distribution partners are Bokomosa, a women’s co-operative trained to produce the extremely popular Kombucha iced tea with significant health benefits known world-wide. M-JUS is a dynamic berry juice manufacturer also based in Kathorus, east of Johannesburg. An emerging Orange Farm entrepreneur has also used Siyeza’s attractive pricing to start her own mini-hub and Fast-Moving Consumer Goods supply business in the area, and an empowered local driver is contracted to supply Orange Farm from the Kathorus hub.
Siyeza is an excellent example of a disruptive innovation that brings together community development. The proven success of the Siyeza business model in Ekurhuleni has opened the door to develop further township markets in Tembisa, Umlazi and Mdantsane.