Move over, bricks and mortar!

Repurposed shipping containers make for affordable business premises for township entrepreneurs

High population density, high building costs and a relative lack of formal infrastructure in settlements and townships make it difficult for small business owners to build new premises. But there is a far cheaper and quicker way to expand your growing business. Township entrepreneurs with limited resources now have access to low-cost premises that are easy to set up in the heart of the communities they want to serve and operate in. Dozens of old shipping containers have been given a new life in our townships as spaza shops, hairdressers, barber shops and even schools and libraries!

Containers have afforded township entrepreneurs an innovative way to start and maintain businesses with little initial capital and low overheads and allow them to operate more competitively. The container-based service has become a popular alternative for informal traders and small business owners who were previously operating on the streets or out of their homes.

“Containers are fast becoming the first option for start-up businesses,” says Chris Gunning, sales manager for Container Conversions. “Using converted shipping containers allows the entrepreneur to have options to upscale or relocate the business quickly and efficiently.” Used shipping containers are strong, secure structures that can be used for accommodation, businesses or a combination of the two,” he says.

Containers have afforded township entrepreneurs an innovative way to start and maintain businesses with little initial capital and low overheads and allow them to operate more competitively.

New and pre-owned shipping containers come in various sizes and can be bought or rented. The containers are extremely robust and therefore ideally suited to rugged environments, especially where safety is a concern. They are easily stackable and can be joined to make larger, secure units.  

Container premises are:

  • Spacious: Containers are designed to store and transport huge volumes of goods. As a result, they make spacious and comfortable premises that can be up- or down-scaled on demand.
  • Quick to set up: Containers take a few weeks to customise and set up, depending on your specific requirements for your unique business needs.
  • Portable: Containers are easy to transport, anywhere.
  • Customisable: You can paint, clad and insulate a container, add windows, doors and a roof, plumb it, electrify it, and roll out the Wi-Fi. You can join one or more units together for extra-large space, or you can downscale to any size and dimension.
  • Environmentally friendly: By revamping and recycling a used container, you’re doing your bit for the environment.

Containers as an alternative retail space are a game changer for improving and revitalising the South African township economy.