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The business of shopping for Khayelitsha

Aug 13 2017 06:03
Aldi Schoeman

Grocery shopping may get cheaper thanks to a new venture that helps people buy in bulk.

This business, Lakheni, shops on behalf of residents of Khayelitsha in Cape Town at the end of every month.

Nokwethu Khojane, one of the co-founders of the business, said Lakheni’s clients pay between 20% and 40% less than usual for their groceries because of saved transport costs and bulk buying.

“Residents of low-income areas sometimes pay more than other people for services and goods because the infrastructure isn’t properly developed, and people have to travel long distances to get to shops.

“In the Western Cape, for example, 40% of residents live in low-income communities. Only 10% of the supermarkets in the province cater for these communities.”

Transport costs make it an expensive excursion – the consumer must pay for the taxi trip to the shops, and then pay for two seats on the return trip so the grocery bags can be accommodated.

Khojane and her partner, Lauren Drake, realised people could save a lot of money if they did not have to pay for transport.

In addition, they could get discounts for buying in bulk.

So the pair started shopping on behalf of people 18 months ago.

To reach as many people as possible in a short space of time, they focused on places where people already tended to congregate, such as crèches, youth groups or women’s groups.

They gather shopping lists from clients and buy everything from washing powder to sugar at Makro, Jumbo and 1Up.

They do their research and shop around to find the best prices and deals.

Once everything has been purchased, they drop the shopping off at specified delivery points – mostly créches – that are within walking distance of most families’ homes.

In fact, their passion for helping crèches gave Khojane and Drake the idea for the business.

“We were MBA students together and wanted to work at crèches to advance childhood development,” said Khojane.

“Then we realised that the women there were a lot better at it than we were. What they did need was a reliable source of income.”

The crèches now earn a commission for every person they refer to Lakheni.

The business began with five “buying groups” and there are now 98 in Khayelitsha.

They hope to have 200 groups by the end of the year.

Khojane said that one of the biggest lessons she learnt was not to think of low-income communities as places where nothing worked.

“The opposite is true. We wouldn’t be where we are now if it wasn’t for the things that do work.

"What works is that people support each other and they have a network.”

The second-biggest lesson was not to wait for everything to be perfect before they began the business.

“Just start. You only see the changes you need to make when you begin,” she said.

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