Original Research

Challenges facing small business retailers in selected South African townships

Maphelo Malgas, Wellington B. Zondi
The Southern African Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management | Vol 12, No 1 | a202 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajesbm.v12i1.202 | © 2020 Maphelo Malgas, Wellington B. Zondi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 July 2018 | Published: 25 February 2020

About the author(s)

Maphelo Malgas, Department of Retail Business Management, Faculty of Business and Management Sciences, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, South Africa
Wellington B. Zondi, Graduate School of Business and Leadership, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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Background: South African townships have a vibrant small retailing business which at some point was dominated by local traders. However, in recent times, the country has attracted migrants who are very competitive in the township retailing space.

Aim: This study seeks to identify the challenges facing local small business retailers in the township retailing environments and then develop a business intervention model for traders to improve.

Setting: Primary research was conducted in two townships of Cape Town – Delft and Eindhoven.

Methods: The population of the study comprised two groups, namely, South African and foreign national small business retailers operating grocery retailer stores. The first group consisted of 55 South African small business retailers while the second group consisted of 75 migrant small business retailers. A random sample was targeted from each group and the quantitative research methodology was used in this study using a structured questionnaire with close-ended questions as a research instrument.

Results: The results showed growth of foreign national retailers and decline in the number of the local retailers in the two townships. The study showed that migrant retailers have a competitive edge over local retailers. The study also revealed that most local traders have a lower level of education compared to their migrant trader counterparts.

Conclusion: The local small business retailer requires targeted support from the government as suggested in the business intervention model proposed in this study.


small business retailers; township retailing; migrant small business; migrant entrepreneurship; South African townships.


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