Connecting the dots between local shoppers and hundreds of emerging entrepreneurs is one solution to fixing a crippled local economy.
Stern in this belief, Lize Testa from Brackenfell, at the height of the national lockdown in May, started an e-mall to encourage people to buy from local entrepreneurs.
The aim of Pixiedots e-mall is to connect entrepreneurs and small businesses in the northern suburbs of Cape Town with the public to encourage local trade.
“Thousands lost their incomes and had to be inventive to survive, whether it be making and selling masks and homemade meals, or distributing a variety of products from home. It was an eye-opener for many,” says Lize.
Lize believes that the effects of the lockdown have in many respects changed consumer patterns to shape a new local economy.
“Within weeks you could find almost any product for sale somewhere on Facebook. Instead of going to the grocery shop or mall, I found I could simply drive down the street to buy a cup of hearty homemade soup from an elderly lady, or a batch of fresh biltong at the small corner shop. Neighbours started supporting each other in a bid to survive,” she says.
Lize herself lost her income when the training company she works for had to close their doors for the foreseeable future.
“Local trade suddenly became as local as you can get, and it could stay this way for years to come. People realised they must buy local, to restore the economy.
Pixiedots offers a networking platform to assist new entrepreneurs and existing small businesses. It makes it easier for people to trade locally.
“After Covid-19 hit our country it became clear that the divide between rich and poor, small business and corporate, just became that much bigger. The focus of this e-commerce site is to connect small and micro business in South Africa to the local community,” she explains.
On her website, Lize refers to a survey by the South African SME Finance Association (Sasfa), that indicated that 75% of small and micro businesses would have closed down had level 4 of lockdown remained in place beyond 30 June.
“With fewer people going to malls for fear of being exposed to the virus, this platform also reduces the risk of many small companies closing,” she says.
“It makes it easy to purchase via a secure e-commerce website and a network of courier services from which they can all benefit.”
“Everyone benefits from each other by shared advertising. For example, if you are looking for an item from one seller and you find something else from another seller, that you did not know about, you now can buy both at the same time. If you are happy with the product you can also leave a review.”
The e-mall has a variety of categories that at this stage include groceries, foodstuff, arts and crafts, kitchenware and stationery.
Products currently available are handmade jewellery, health and skincare products.
Lize says they have pledged to donate 10% of their profits to benefit animals affected by the lockdown in Bloekombos.
“On a trip a while back to Bloekombos we came across quite a few hungry and stray dogs in the area.
“The field worker in the area told us people were really struggling and were asking her for donations of food to feed their animals.
“We have pledged to donate a portion of our profits until at least the end of June but possibly longer towards raising funds to buy dog food which will then be delivered to Lindie Rossouw of Aniwell South Africa, to be distributed to these animals.”
Lize is excited about future prospects and being a small part of the restoration of the local economy.
“We hope through this platform and our Facebook group that we encourage people to shop locally and keep small businesses alive while connecting to others.”
She encourages the public to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Or see the website at www.pixiedots.co.za, or their page on Facebook.
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