The rise of township economy
Developing local township economies in South Africa is a massive trend that is growing exponentially. The critical link it provides between local municipal growth and the country’s economy at large is the reason behind the corporate push. One such company trailblazing in South Africa’s largest township is Soweto Outdoor Adventures.
Through outdoor-based activities that involve the local community, Director Kgomotso Pooe noticed a gap in the market and spearheaded a movement in Soweto that focused on mobilising from within.
“It all started with the idea of creating an outdoor platform for people to enjoy quad biking and go -karting as social activities,” Pooe says. “When we first started, no one else around the country was offering these activities in any other township. We were essentially the pioneers in bringing these activities to Soweto. When we started Soweto Township Adventures, we started noticing other townships following suit.” Realising the potential Soweto has as an economic hub, Pooe broadened his vision to not only focus on customers from within the township. Latching onto tourism in the township provided the company with a new revenue stream.
“We initially started the business for Soweto as our primary clientele,” he says. “As time went on, we started realising that our clients were coming from outside the township and they were merely visiting for the day.”
The takeaway is the fact that Soweto Outdoor Adventures provides people with an opportunity to experience Soweto from a new perspective. “It’s a new way to engage with Soweto – it ’s way more hands- on,” says Pooe. “Clients get to engage with the community as opposed to sitting on a coach bus and touring in a closed- off manner.”
Soweto Outdoor Adventures allows any individual to actually walk and talk with the average Sowetan. It also allows corporates to come into Soweto and enjoy an activity-based experience of the township. The company also prides itself on supporting local merchants which ensures reliable cash flow into the township. “Every aspect of our value chain is Sowetan,” says Pooe. “We support the local vendors on the street. From a business perspective, we’re allowing our clients to do their own market research in Soweto too – by giving them the opportunity to go out and talk with the locals.”
As with many entrepreneurial ventures, starting a business starts and ends with passion. For Pooe, it goes as far as factoring it into key business decisions. “It’s the drive that keeps us going, and that is why we only want to partner with like-minded people who share our passion,” Pooe says. “Had it not been for this passion of ours, we would have closed shop long ago.”
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