How to Unlock SA’s Township Market

Unlocking township economy potential with Order Kasi's Leon Qwabe.
March 1, 2024

If you’re looking to unlock a share of SA’s massive R450bn township economy, this week’s podcast is for you. We sat down with Leon Qwabe, founder of Order Kasi, whom you might recognise from Covid-time news reports on their then-township-focused food delivery startup.

Well, Leon and his team have since pivoted into broader township last-mile solutions and, as you can imagine, business is good.

Catch the highlights

1. Townships are hungry for e-commerce

With over 6 years of hard lessons in the township delivery space, Leon says here that now’s the time for more advanced offerings. With a sudden rise in kasi entrepreneurs building businesses via WhatsApp and looking for innovative ways to get paid via socials, there’s room (and spend) for more online retailing.

Particularly in the health and fitness space, says Leon, where you have a broader lifestyle element to each purchase. Apparently, Herbalife does really well in SA townships right now.

2. People are banking and shopping online

For years, the mantra was that townships ran on cash so payments were an issue. But, as Leon explains here, that was due to the reversing trend of people growing up and moving to the suburbs. Nowadays, the trend is to stay in the township and upgrade the family home.

With that, you have a growing younger, employed market using banked money within their local market. To the point where Order Kasi’s entire niche is now township dwellers with a bank card, who are used to shopping online.

3. It’s all about keeping it local

As Leon says here, navigating and route planning in a township is a different game – some areas have roads and street names, some not so much. And one of the key ways Leon learned to overcome that hurdle is to use local drivers, guys who know the area and can communicate with the customer like a local.

That, however, extends to Leon’s own approach to building a business in this space. One of his biggest sources of information is the local merchants whom he signs up as customers – don’t just try and sell them your service, sit awhile and ask for guidance, they know the game inside-out.

You can also grab the Spotify and Apple Podcast links on our website here.