OPINION: Buy from the little guy this festive season

Katlego Maphai
Katlego Maphai

South African consumers have the ability, through their buying decisions, to help build their communities. We often feel that small actions won’t matter – but this greatly undermines our ability to make a difference. 

We recently surveyed a thousand small business owners ahead of the festive season to better understand what the festive season means to their businesses, and more importantly, the role they play in their communities. 

Shopping patterns are entrenched with most of us. Understandably, shopping around for the best price on a predetermined item makes sense, and, of course, there is nothing nefarious about it, it’s just the way things have always been done. 

But what if there is another option? One that sees us making an impact, benefiting more people, and playing an active role in building our communities? It comes down to a micro behavioural change – one that involves allocating some of our festive season budgets to local producers, creators, innovators, and retailers. 

Currently, there is a lack of this culture in South Africa, and this festive season is as good a time as any to start creating one. By shopping at a small business, you are consciously directing some of your spend towards the people building our local communities.

Build the network

Our research shows that for every R10 spent at a small business, R6.51 stays local. It does not go toward dividend payouts, but to school fees and salaries of people who live in your community. On average, each small business employs between three and four people and supports 30 other small businesses through their supplier base.

There’s a network – and ecosystem – that makes our towns tick. Whether it is using the local barber or confectionary, corner cafe, dry cleaner, or the small toy store with carefully curated gifts, we are contributing to the people that live around us.

Let’s face it: no small business can compete with the variety and discount provided by a large retailer. But that is not the point. It is about going small to get something that is unique and to develop a relationship with someone in your community. And by doing so, there’s a ripple effect that reaches out into the neighbourhood. Saving some of your festive season spend to shop small is benefitting real people.

So, instead of logging on and making a quick purchase, or travelling to a mass-retailer, consider gifts that will mean something to more than the receiver. Together, we can start a more conscious shopping movement that benefits all, and not just a few.

Katlego Maphai is co-founder and CEO of Yoco. Views expressed are his own. 

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