The Community Economic Recovery Project has helped many communities in the Western Cape during the Covid-19 lockdown. The most recent activity sees soup kitchens using their digital vouchers to buy at local spaza shops in Khayelitsha.MEC, David Maynie said the pilot project, which has been running for six months, has been successful and the department was looking at how it could scale it up.
“This project is a great example of how the public and private sector, together with civil society, can partner quickly, effectively and innovatively in a time of crisis. I look forward to our continued efforts to work together to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy so that we can save businesses and save jobs in the Western Cape,” he said.
Lingelethu Cash Store and Mpumi’s Kitchen are part of the 225 community kitchens and more than 135 spaza shops into which the provincial government has injected R3 million to provide food relief while supporting informal businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lingelethu Cash Store Manager, Phelisa Nojila said job losses affected the business negatively and had seen decreased profits during the pandemic.“These vouchers from the community kitchens and the early childhood centres have boosted and ultimately sustained our businesses and we hope that the provincial government can continue with this project so that more spaza shops can benefit”,she said.
Mpumi’s Kitchen feeds more than 250 community members from Harare and Ndlovini. Founder of the kitchen, Nompumezo Tibini said she receives R1 000 digital vouchers every two weeks that she spends at Lingelethu Cash Store.“I mostly buy the perishable goods from spaza shops which add more stock which is mostly used on my Friday menu of bread and soup,” she said.
Winde is expected to outline more steps that the province will be taking in response to support businesses and growing the economy when he delivers his State of the Province Address (SOPA) which is scheduled to take place on the 18th of February 2021.
“Throughout the pandemic, the Western Cape government has always balanced saving lives with saving livelihoods, and this is just one of a number of ways we have helped to support businesses to continue to operate. This project encompasses two of our key priorities – supporting jobs and dignity and well-being,” said Winde.
Economic Development Partnership chief executive Andrew Boraine said the programme has not only supported the retention of jobs in spaza shops but has also provided food relief to vulnerable communities.
“Working in collaboration with community kitchens and spaza shops has led to the creation of a dynamic network of entrepreneurs and civil society, from whom we have been able to learn valuable lessons about what is possible for future township economy programmes,” he said.