By Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

Nobuthle at her spaza

Everything is better when you have a neighborhood corner store. In Brooklyn – the last place I lived for more than four months – a bodega was almost always a good sign. Not only could you get food and drink whenever you pleased, but its presence was as if someone thoughtfully left the lights on so you didn’t have to stumble home in the dark.

South Africa enjoys an abundance of corner stores and they’re one of the most common businesses funded by Women’s Development Businesses (WDB) in southern KwaZulu-Natal. Corner stores run the gamut from selling a few things out of a home to setting up a small shelter by the side of the road to building a more sturdy structure to leasing a space in a building. They’re a very important source of goods in rural communities since it can be expensive and time-consuming to make a trip to town every time you need something.

There are two terms for a corner store – “spaza” and “tuck shop”. Some people use these interchangeably but it seems like spazas might be the more informal of the two. Typical stock includes chips, sweets, bread, airtime for mobile phones, and maybe cold drinks. Sometimes you can buy fat cookies – a very popular treat made from mixing sugar, water, and flour and then frying the little balls of dough in cooking oil – and mielie (corn on the cob) but options are generally quite limited. It’s also a place where you can chat with neighbors and develop a relationship with the owners, to the point where they might sell to you on credit or sell to you late at night even though the shop is technically closed.

Meanwhile, I think of tuck shops as being in sturdier buildings and selling a wider range of items including fruit, vegetables, milk, eggs, hot food, and staples like salt, sugar, and cooking oil. It’s more like a small grocery store to a spaza’s convenience store. But the distinction is very fuzzy so whether it’s called a spaza or a tuck shop, the stock is based on local demand and the sturdiness of the structure depends on what the owner can afford.

Nobuthle, a borrower with Sabathwa Group, is a great example of a typical Kiva client in the region. She runs a small stall by the side of the road and also sells items from her home. She clearly loves being a saleswoman and supports her children, her brother, her brother’s child, and her sister’s children through her work. Business has been going well since she spent her Kiva loan on airtime for mobile phones and drinks, two popular items with her customers, and she plans to put her profits toward building a sturdier shop to protect her from the rain, building a home for her family, and keeping her kids in school as long as they want to study. In this way, Nobuthle is like every single WDB client I’ve met over the past three months – she’ll sacrifice her own eduction, comfort, and finances so that her family can enjoy opportunities that she didn’t have….

Since this post is dedicated to talking shop, here are a few more businesses you’ll find all over the region:

Curry shops – KwaZulu Natal boasts 80% of the Indian population in South Africa
Bottle stores – What we in the US call “liquor stores”
Butchers – Favorite local items include braai meat (meat for barbecuing), boerewors (translates from Afrikans as “farmer’s sausage”), and cow’s head for special occasions
Stands/Stalls by the rank (where people go to catch buses or share taxis) or by the side of the road – You can find produce, clothes, shoes, crafts, airtime, homemade food like pies, fat cookies, hot chips (french fries), and just about anything else you might need before or after a journey

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Alexis Ditkowsky (KF14) works with Women’s Development Businesses in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Check out WDB’s lending team and stay tuned for new loans on their lending page.

Selection of previous posts by Alexis Ditkowsky:
Special Update from the Field: Beaches, Safaris + Cambodian Glamour Shots
Photos from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Database Detective: South Africa Edition
The Meaning of “Now” in South Africa
Next Steps for Kiva’s Partner in South Africa
First Borrower Visit (Take 350+)
A Hand-Delivered Kiva Fellow
Drawings from Training and Greetings from Boston

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Nobuthle's home and stock room

Bricks for eventually building a sturdier home

Nobuthle carries stock from her home to her spaza shelter by the road

The shelter has limited protection from the elements

Setting up shop for the day

Nobuthle's spaza


Comments

speachless

hi nobuhle its nice that u taking care of ur family through ur shop,keep it up dear. pls adviceme on hw to start my own. sho sisi

I would like to start a tuck shop at home but don't know what the legal requirement's are, can anyone help me

i am staying in mabaalstad near swartruggens and i will like to start a tukshop or a pub,, what do i have to do

i am staying in mocoseng zone 14 mahikeng near BM Mokitime primary school and i will like to start a tukshop or spazas,, what do i have to do

i am staying in mocoseng zone 14 mahikeng near BM Mokitime primary school and i will like to start a tukshop or spazas,, what do i have to do

Hi, hats off to you guys, an also the ones that opened their spaza shops, i need some advise as we started one but dnt have funds for stock, the rent is bit high, thnx, my contact no is 0848024999, email nt wrkin

Hello,I like to start my own tuck shop nd bottle store,please help me,what to I need and where to go.thank you

Hello, i like to start my own tuck shop and selling food I really need extra cash please help me, what do I need to start and where must I go. Thank you

Hi i would like to start a tuk shop and want to know how to start and what are the requirements please advise thanks.

Hi I just find a place to rent to start a spaza shop ,I need help I have all my company profile as well I hace my PTY NPC documents,I just need a financial help to start. If you can please contact me on my email address. Regards Angelique Patel

I like to start a tuck-shop which product should I start with. if I am running fish and chips which product must I used?

Hi My name is Patrick,i like to open a small business just around my corner yard. I stay in Pretoria and i dont know where i can register a business of a tuck shop like.

Hi I got a tuck shop for 4years now but can't improve because i am not working we eat from children to school pay stolment because is to small, so reason y is I want to make my businesses begar from tuck shop to ar beg shop so i ned help to grow my business please.

Hi.I am from Durban who wants to open a tuckshop in my yArd garage cause the shops are far .Who can I see to get permission and help has a licence. Much Appreciated.

Hi.I am from Durban who wants to open a tuckshop in my yArd garage cause the shops are far .Who can I see to get permission and help has a licence. Much Appreciated.

Hi I want to no how to go above for a tuchshop at my house plz

Hi I want to open a spaza shop at home .how can I do plz help ..

I'm from KwaShange area near Mamba primary school I'm nhlanhla nkala and my area is having a problem of talking a walk of about 3km when they want to buy small items like bread ,airtime e.t.c there no no shops near this area and I would like to open mine but the thing is I've got no capital and I need someone to advice me on how can I start this business

Hi my name is lucy mabaso I'm running a small business selling fast food I wanna help my people in my area to come and play lotto at my shop Please advise

hi, i would like to start a spaza. where to go for stocks. i would like to sell sweets, cold drinks and chips

hi, i would like to start a spaza. where to go for stocks. i would like to sell sweets, cold drinks and chips

hi, i would like to start a spaza. where to go for stocks. i would like to sell sweets, cold drinks and chips

hi, i would like to start a spaza. where to go for stocks. i would like to sell sweets, cold drinks and chips

hi, i would like to start a spaza. where to go for stocks. i would like to sell sweets, cold drinks and chips

I live in Johannesburg but homeland s rural areas in limpopo so I would like to know how can I get a licence to operate spada and I need to sell also liquor Thanks

Hi my name is sthembile. I do have a tuck shop where I do sell airtime nd some community needs like sugar, coocking oil, tea bags and many more bt the thing is I really struggled to get profit out of my stock so that I can buy more stock like cooldrinks or to use it to buy fridge so that I will be able to sell coldrinks. So I am looking for an advise, what I can do more to get an extra cash to buy a fridge??

i will like to start a sustainable fast food shop within my hood.I would to know more about disadvantage expectation that i will be facing.?

i will like to start a sustainable fast food shop within my hood.I would to know more about disadvantage expectation that i will be facing.?

i will like to start a sustainable fast food shop within my hood.I would to know more about disadvantage expectation that i will be facing.?

Iwat to do spaza shop

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