How to start a kasi business in South Africa

Find out everything you need to know to start your own kasi business.

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How can you start your own kasi business in South Africa

Work is all about making a plan to get things done to get paid. South Africans make things happen no matter what the challenges they face. Like Ntombi’s Achaar and Chakalaka food business, informal kasi businesses are the lifeblood of our great nation and make customers happy every day.

Do you know what a kasi business is? Well, it is a business situated in an informal settlement or township. "Kasi" is short for "lokasie", the Afrikaans word for "location", another name for a township or informal settlement.

Let's get back to Ntombi's story. We sat down for a coffee with Ntombi and chatted with her about her business in Thokoza, just after she got some great news about the expansion of her business. Be inspired by what Ntombi had to say.

Read Ntombi's practical advice with her answers to our questions.

How did you start your own business?

“I started my business after I was retrenched from my full-time job. Afterwards, I spent time at home thinking about selling something to get an income again. I thought about selling food. I thought about a lot of things, but I didn’t succeed with that because there are so many people selling food like braai meat and fat cakes in the location. So I had to think about doing something else. I started selling Achaar.”

How do you sell your Achaar and Chakalaka?

“I sell it from home, or I deliver it. I like to work from home because it is more convenient. I can do other things at home like my chores while I work.”

What challenges have you experienced?

“The first challenge is getting customers. When you start a business, people aren’t getting used to it fast, nê. So you have to remind them, ‘I’m selling something. I’m selling something. I’m selling Achaar.’ Another challenge, is a big one, are people that don’t pay after you gave it to them on credit. Then you don’t see the profit in that week.”

What are the benefits of having your own business?

“You have your own money if the business is going well. If business is good, you can do whatever you want with your money. You can buy groceries. You can eat.”

Are there disadvantages to having your own business compared to full-time employment?

“Yes. You don’t always have a stable income when it is your own business. So, you can’t plan that much about what to do with the profit you might not make.”

How did you fund your business?

“I had money from my retrenchment. So, I started with my own money."

Get more info about possible funding options f0r your business

Read everything you need to know about business loans or other lending options.

What makes South Africa great for starting your own business?

“It is great because the jobs are scarce. You take time to get hired if you are looking for a job. So, it is better to start something on the side, even if you are looking for a job. You don’t know if you will get a job or not.”

How have you grown your business?

“I have been running my business for two years now. I just met a health food shop owner, and I gave her samples of my Achaar and Chakalaka. She loved them and has started ordering my Achaar and Chalaka to sell to her customers. I’m happy.”

What personal qualities do you need to start your own business?

Ntombi’s business is growing. She now supplies her fresh Achaar and Chakalaka to a health food shop, which fell in love with Notmbi’s flavourful food. Street vendors could also sell Ntombi’s products in the future. 

kasi businesses and other informal businesses are unique, and there are countless opportunities and types of informal businesses to choose from. So, read on for more information about one of the most popular types of informal businesses, street vendors.

Learn more about kasi and informal businesses

Street vendors are popular informal business owners who make it happen. Are you interested? Read on about making it as a street vendor.

What’s it like to be a street vendor? Street vendors work across South Africa in cities, townships and anywhere else their goods are needed.

Let's explore Lerato's and Thembi's street vendor businesses. Lerato sells fat cakes but can't afford the rent for the tiny spot she uses.

Another vendor Thembi does the same work but needs more money so that she can buy ingredients for fat cakes in bulk. It’s more costly to purchase small amounts of food ingredients at a time. When she’s not on her guard, she thinks that people walking past her stand could try to steal her tasty fat cakes.

What else is there to know about becoming a street vendor?

What are some of the problems facing street vendors?

Some of these challenges are due to the existing laws. This is because they don’t cater to them, or their implementation suits them.

It can be difficult to start a small business 

Like a plant needs water, a business needs moolah. No cash, no business – it’s that simple. What chance does a street vendor have to borrow from a bank? How can he succeed if he has nothing to present as security to get your loan? 

How can vendors grow their businesses?

If he doesn’t have the necessary skills, he can't put together a proposal or business plan for growing a business. And then there are all the financial and legal requirements he must address. 

Obeying laws and by-laws

There are laws in place that need to be obeyed by street vendors. Some by-laws include Health Department regulations and Zoning Scheme regulations, which tell you how and where you can trade. 

Hey, it needed to be said, but enough of the serious stuff! Let’s see how we can work out a solution.

Do you know your rights?

Once you know what you are legally entitled to give you the confidence to move forward as a street vendor. The national law called ‘Business Act 71 of 1991’ says you don’t require a licence to trade.

Local municipal by-laws then interpret that law to be effective in their environment. Visit the Municipality, or try to contact a friend who works there and knows the laws and by-laws that affect you as a street vendor. You can also visit the local library or go on the internet to find out more. 

Organise a group of street vendors

On your own, you are a lone voice in the wilderness, but as an organisation of vendors, you may become a formidable force that can help address the laws and by-laws.

Meet at high levels

Founded in 2013, the South African Informal Traders’ Alliance (SAITA) is a structure at a national level. But there are many informal traders’ organisations that work locally, such as the South African National Traders Retail Alliance (SANTRA). The bottom line is that the more influential the organisation is, the greater the clout it will have with Municipalities and the Government. Also, there is great solidarity within such organisations. 

Do you know of a vendor with negotiation skills?

Suppose the Municipality challenges you concerning a by-law infringement. In that case, some vendor or vendor group with the right skills needs to see a Municipal official. At the meeting, they will be able to negotiate about critical issues affecting your trading. So, it is important to draw up a negotiating strategy to ensure your success. 

Do you want to know more about how you could start your business?

Learn more about starting a business in South Africa today.

Beat the odds with Yoco

What kind of things does Yoco do for customers? One example is a beach vendor experience, Yoco supplied a vendor team with boardshorts in collaboration with a swimwear company. Yoco also provided them with a gazebo from their store from where card payments are made using a Yoco card machine.

In another example, Yoco has meetings set aside specifically for Women in Business. This is where courageous entrepreneurs share the inspiring tips that cause them to succeed as underdogs. 

You can make it happen. Go from underdog to household name.

Source: Street Vendor Manual 2014

Yoco Card Machines and Online Payments

Quiz Question 1

Want to sell in person, online or both?

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