No need for money to make money

2016-06-21 06:00
Mitchell’s Plain Online Store owners Angelo Fortuin, André Williams and Marshall Petersen run their own business from home.

Mitchell’s Plain Online Store owners Angelo Fortuin, André Williams and Marshall Petersen run their own business from home.

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Three men have set out to rise above their circumstances and started an uplifting business venture from the streets of Rocklands.

Armed with just R50 in their business account and a big dream, Angelo Fortuin, André Williams and Marshall Petersen did not let anything get in their way.

Today the trio are co-owners of Mitchell’s Plain Online Store, a company offering locals access to a general store trading in anything from ink to electronics.

Fortuin, Williams and Petersen were all unemployed when they started the company in 2015, and are now well on their way to creating an empire.

They offer free delivery in the Mitchell’s Plain area and post office or courier rates elsewhere. “The online store concept originated from the Mitchell’s Plain Local Business Directory. Initially Masques Snell and I used the local directory to get businesses to list online so that people can find the businesses online using their smartphones. The directory is still going but there was very little buy-in from local businesses to pay R50 per month,” says Petersen.

He says they noticed organic hits to the pages which led to selling products on the platform that exists today. Since starting up, the owners are already drawing salaries and have been involved in various events such as the DSTV Mitchell’s Plain Festival, Open Streets Mitchell’s Plain and the recent Tour d’Plain cycling event.

“We have grown since starting as we first did not receive much in sales and now we are in a position where we can pay ourselves a salary. The challenge has been gaining the trust of the people of Mitchell’s Plain in not only that we will deliver but that the products we offer are good quality products,” says Williams.

Williams says they want to employ local matriculants in future to help them kick-start their own business careers.

“As a small business we needed the opportunity to show people that we were trustworthy, and to build client relationships, Gumtree helped us along,” says Williams.

Marketing manager for Gumtree South Africa, Claire Cobbledick, says the Mitchell’s Plain Online Store is just one of many examples of small businesses which have used the site to build a customer base. “Gumtree is perfect for free marketing of goods and services, testing demand and then adjusting a business offering.”

The trio still operate from Petersen’s home in Rocklands. “We would like to move into our own space and eventually start to employ young matriculants. We would like to be an online store that is widely recognised, however, we would like to remain a Mitchells Plain based business. One of the things we are busy with is securing local suppliers, meaning local designers – creators of their own products – so that we can sell online. We have been able to expand our reach to the rest of South Africa, so selling local entrepreneurs products on our website will help them elevate their business,” says Williams.

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