The History of Spaza shops and the importance of branding

Rewriting the injustices of the past.

I’ve learnt that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but will never forget how you made them feel.” This quote by Maya Angelou will forever resonate with our modus operandi here at TooMuchWifi. Our CEO Tauriq Brown consistently instills the concept of Ubuntu. Reminding everyone that we are not in the business of selling wifi but rather in the business of serving the communities of South Africa and Africa in the near future.

In this blog I want us to take a deep dive into the concept of Spaza shops: why, when, where, who, what and how we as TooMuchWifi fit in this puzzle. Firstly, let’s break down the term Spaza shop. Spaza is a term derived from IsiZulu basically meaning hidden in simple terms. Spaza shops or hidden shops found its roots back in the apartheid era where marginalized groups were not allowed to own any shops. They created these hidden shops like the name suggests in their own homes to elude capture by the authorities according to Cape Town Project Center.

What are Spaza shops?

The concept of Spaza shops are relatively the same despite apartheid ending close to 30 years ago. There are 150 000 spaza shops in the country with a market value of over R178 billion that is considered bigger than Shoprite in comparison. Spaza shops are a key part of the economy within the aspirational communities in Mzansi. Bizcommunity argues that spaza shops generate R390 million annual sales with an average individual spend of R50 per day. 

Spaza shops provide a range of goods & services and dominate the retail landscape in aspirational communities across the country. The Spaza’s, so called by the locals play a crucial socio-economic role by creating employment, making credit available for customers available, money transaction and making economic activity in areas where few exist according Aosis. They also provide financial support for the owners, their immediate family, extended families and, often, numerous other poor people within the wider communities. 

Rewriting the injustices of the past

Now that we have unpacked our 5 w’s, let’s answer the question of why you are even reading this blog. How does TooMuchWifi tie in this web of Spaza shops?. TooMuchWifi is a company that prides itself by giving back. We took it upon ourselves to rewrite the injustices of the past by helping hundreds of Spaza shops and local businesses stand out. 

According to Toast you can have a lot of great services but if people don’t know about your business they won’t be able to buy from you or locate your business.  A strong brand will help get your name out there so that people know who you are and what you do. TooMuchWifi has invested heavily in this area to help disadvantaged entrepreneurs build a sustainable brand that is lucrative enough to even support generational family members. 

Why is branding important?

A typical example is Brickhado’s arcade in Langa. The arcade shop is the first of its kind high-end online arcade shop founded by 23 year old Qhamaninande Xameni. Customers would play each other online for a grand prize or for a winner stays competition. Xameni’s arcade shop consists of Playstation 4’s & 5’s and Xbox consoles. For more on the arcade click here.

The shop prior to our involvement had no branding outside despite being well known in the area. New customers would have to ask around where it is or Xameni would have to personally come and fetch them because they could not tell where it is despite standing right in front of it. TooMuchWifi helped Xameni’s arcade by branding his shop so that potential customers can easily spot it. We launched an event that was attended by over two hundred people including six players from Dstv premier soccer league team Cape Town spurs: Chumani Butsaka, Asanele Velebhayi, Khaya Mfecane, Boitumelo Radiopane, Lubeni Haukongo and Obakhe Tshaya.  

“Branding your business is a key part of making a memorable impression on consumers. It makes them aware of your products or services, and persuades them to engage with your business.” says UKPOS This is definitely the case because the arcade is the only thing that comes to mind in Langa when you spek about gaming to the locals.

This is just one of many ways TooMuchWifi gives back to the aspirational communities of Mzansi. Keeping in line with our promise of plowing back over 30% of revenue back to the communities that we serve.