The Box Shop: Expanding the Successful Model Further in 2019 and Pushing Collaboration Among Entrepreneurs

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To help usher in an exciting New Year, a number of startup founders, accelerator heads and ecosystem stakeholders will be sharing with us their plans for the new year and their biggest wish for the local entrepreneurship ecosystem in 2019

Promoting and supporting up-and-coming Soweto-based clothing and design brands to succeed has been the focus of The Box Shop.

Located at the top of Soweto’s famous Vilakazi Street, the incubator is recognised by its distinctive contemporary building built entirely from shipping containers and is envisaged as a space where local entrepreneurs can grow and develop their brands.

This year the incubation expanded with a Midrand branch.

Since opening two years ago, it has helped 92 black businesses sell goods, like fashion, food and furniture, to the value of R3 million. While the primary target market is the millions of people who come to Vilakazi Street to see where history happened, Midrand offers the possibility and promise of a new base mainly made up of up-and-coming young professionals who are living and working in the surrounding area.

One of the incubator’s biggest success stories is Memme Ramaila who hails from the farming community of Mamogas-Kraal. She is the owner of the company, Blissfully Yours Artisanry, a proudly South African homeware brand. The Box Shop was instrumental in getting Ramaila’s products showcased in Atlanta in the United States at a South African Lifestyle Hub. This was done in collaboration with the department of trade and industry.

What’s next for the Box Shop? Sifiso Moyo, founding director of the Soweto incubator talks about plans to expand their model to Durban and Cape Town and his wish for SA entrepreneurs to come up with market-based solutions. 

How do you see the Box Shop continuing to help Soweto’s entrepreneurs in the coming year?

The Box Shop plays a pivotal role in the development of entrepreneurs. The focus in 2019 is to support entrepreneurs in the value chain to ensure that we work with as many Cut, Make and Trim manufacturers to help them put systems in place, enable them to operate lean business and improve on their processes to drive efficiency. The strategy is for brand custodians to continue linking entrepreneurs with other markets outside the Box Shop ecosystem.

My wish is for entrepreneurs to continue to innovate

What are some of your plans for 2019 in this regard?

The plans are to expand the brand to other [cities] like Durban and Cape Town, and introduce new product offering like fabric distribution to give customers an option to buy finished products, or to make their own products through the entrepreneurs we are supporting.

In 2019 will be opening two additional outlets and will be launching our online Pop Up at the OR Tambo and King Shaka airports.

What are some of the developments you are hoping for in the coming year, with regard to the ecosystem, the entrepreneurs themselves and support mechanisms available.

To continue pushing the I Am Local campaign to help educate consumers about the importance of supporting local entrepreneurs and to encourage collaborative approach among entrepreneurs to create shared value.

The Box Shop solidified its mission this year – what can we look forward to from the incubator in 2019?

Look out for the OR Tambo online retail channel and strategic partnerships with other access to market channels. We are also looking to unbundle some of the incubator’s core model activities to other entrepreneurs to promote efficiency, and to aggressively activate our online platform to be aligned with the 4th industrial revolution.

What is your wish for SA entrepreneurs for 2019?

My wish is for entrepreneurs to continue to innovate and provide market-based solutions triggered by opportunities and needs.

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Lebohang Thulo
Lebohang Thulo
Lebohang Thulo is the editor of SME South Africa. She enjoys keeping up with the country’s exciting and fast developing entrepreneurship ecosystem. You can find her at @lelele3