Somali traders in Khayelitsha joins with locals for fair trade

2016-05-26 06:00
 Sasscop chairman Bongani Vakele, SBC chairman Omar Yusuf and Sasscop board member Khwezi Mayambela during the signing of the agreement between the two organisation.  PHOTO: Mandla Mahashe

Sasscop chairman Bongani Vakele, SBC chairman Omar Yusuf and Sasscop board member Khwezi Mayambela during the signing of the agreement between the two organisation. PHOTO: Mandla Mahashe

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Local Spaza shop owners and Somali nationals running tuck shops in the townships have paved away for the two groups to work together.

On Tuesday evening, the South African Spaza Shop Co-operative(Sassco) and the Somali Business Community Organisation signed a partnership that will see Somalis and locals working together.

According to Sascop chairman Bongani Vakele the partnership will see the two nationalities co-own and co-running spaza shops in Khayelitsha.

“For now this partnership will start in Khayelitsha but we are a national organisation and we are hoping to roll it out in the rest of the country.

We have already shortlisted two shops that will be co-owned by a local and Somalian through this partnership. Two of these stores are in F and E sections of Khayelitsha and the other two are in Makhaza 44 and 36 sections,” announced Vakele.

He said that the two organisations were in talks since last year but has finally found the agreeable terms for the relationship.

Vakele said that his organisation had more than 500 members, growing and hoping to gain from the 4000 spazas in Khayelitsha alone.

He said that the partnership will help integrate the Somali nationals in the local communities.

“When locals assume ownership, the victimisation of Somali shops will be a thing of the past. When we co-own these shops, there will be less looting. Also, we can learn and benefit from each other as nationalities,” said Vakele.

Somali Business Community chairperson Omar Yusuf said that the partnership is the step in the right direction for an integrated and united Africa.

“When you are a European citizen you only need one ID document to travel in the various countries of Europe without hassles. However, here in Africa there are borders which separate the people and people are not united.

You know, I came here in South Africa in 2008 with absolutely nothing but I managed to make a success of myself in informal trading but I am still a refugee.

But a white European would have a green ID book by now. We need to change the way that we as Africans think about each other and work together,” said Yusuf.

He said that he had encouraged more of his country man to be part of this programme and that currently there were 25 businessmen in his organisation and noted that there were more than 35000 Somali nationals in the province and that there is room for growth.

He said that South Africans can learn how to trade from Somali businessmen and Somali business can also benefit from working with locals as there is government support for entrepreneurship in the country.

Sasscop board member Khwezi Mayambela revealed that the big goal for the partnership is an establishment of a distribution centre for Spaza shops in Khayelitsha.

“We want this warehouse to be here in Khayelitsha and be co-owned by locals and Somalis. In this way we are making sure that the money made in Khayelitsha remains in the community.

We need people to realise that we can gain more when we work together with foreigners than when we chase them away,” he said.

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