A feel good story – Transformation in the Retail Sector

Dogged determination seals the deal for ambitious Ramaphosa businessman

Source: Supermarket&Retailer for FMCG, Retailers, Wholesalers & Suppliers

Thursday, November 16 marked an important day in the history of Ramaphosa township and the life of businessman Mancha Nkoana as Pick n Pay officially opened a store at the township’s Stallion Shopping Centre.

This is the first retail supermarket chain to enter this township made up of shack dwellings, RDP houses and a few upgraded, larger houses.

The opening of Pick n Pay also tells the story of a resilient man with a firm belief in turning his dream into reality – the franchise holder, Nkoana – who regardless of obstacles and difficulties, refused to give up.

Nkoana was recently awarded the franchise following his long and often difficult journey from rags to riches.

Peanut seller
His journey to the Pick n Pay franchise started when he operated a business from a shack – but it did not happen overnight.

Today the self-made man is one of the township’s business success stories.

Nkoana started out by selling dry-roasted peanuts to passengers on trains when he was young and later secured a job at a Coca-Cola plant. Nothing could diminish his enthusiasm and dream to one day become a successful businessman.

He took the next step by selling clothes during his lunch time to people working at the plant and to the community at large after work and on weekends.

He later opened two spaza shops in Ramaphosa, where he operated from corrugated iron shacks. This saw an expansion of Nkoana’s businesses to two general merchandise stores, popularly known as “Stallions” in the township.

From his own pocket, Nkoana subsequently managed to procure a piece of land on which he then built a shopping centre, which today is known as Stallion Shopping Centre.

“Due to lack of funding, it took me years to finish building the centre, but I managed to finally complete it and I opened it a few years ago,” said Nkoana.

Before the arrival of the new Pick n Pay, the mix of businesses operating from this location included general dealers, a bottle store, a butchery, fast food outlets, clothing shops and pubs.

Township award
According to Nkoana, he was among the Boksburg entrepreneurs nominated for a 2014 Township Entrepreneurship Award (TEA), offered by the Gauteng Department of Economic Development.

Through this, he was encouraged to improve his business to become a contributor to the development of the township’s economy and wanted to play a significant role in the reduction of unemployment and poverty in his community.

“Of course, I considered the suggestion and with the help of the Gauteng Department of Economic Development, I managed to get the Pick n Pay franchise.

“This is a dream come true for me because all my life I have been hoping to get one of the national retail supermarket franchises to be able to create more employment opportunities in my community, where the youth are hit hard by unemployment,” said Nkoana.

Nkoana sees the entry of Pick n Pay into the township as an answer for youth who bear the brunt of the province’s high unemployment rate.

He has also been very instrumental in the development of many other small enterprises and co-operatives in Ekurhuleni.

I have helped, advised and shown many people the right doors to knock on if they needed assistance with their small businesses, and I’m glad that many of them are successful business people today.

Nkoana remains connected to his community and has been involved in a number of community projects aimed at improving the lives of the needy.

He is the main sponsor of a feeding scheme operating from the Ekukhanyeni Primary School whose children come from families living below the poverty line.

He also sponsors sporting activities including the Ramaphosa Athletics Club, Sports Against Crime and others.

Nkoana said he has drawn inspiration from one of South Africa’s richest businessmen, Richard Maponya, who opened one of the biggest shopping centres in South Africa, Maponya Mall, in Soweto.

Maponya reportedly started out selling milk which he used to deliver to customers by bicycle.