We are very proud of one of our new initiatives, the SIYEZA Shop. To find out more about what the shop is, where it’s going, and who the person behind the wheel is, we sat down with the creator of this great idea, Bevan Jones. He is full of excitement and plans for the future, not only for SIYEZA Shop but also for Thebe and South Africa.
Q. Describe what SIYEZA Shop is.
Owned by the Thebe Foundation, SIYEZA is all about building and empowering our local communities. We do this by delivering affordable groceries directly to households, spazas, stokvels and other community groups. This saves consumers both time and money as they no longer need to arrange transport for their basic shopping needs. Under the SIYEZA franchise, local entrepreneurs can also develop their own 6-person cooperative and eventually own a tuk-tuk delivery vehicle each.
Q. What will be the success of this business?
The key measure of success is whether SIYEZA can continue to run a profitable operation, whilst creating significant job opportunities (around 40 jobs per operation area), and offering training and development for each community where we’re active.
Q. What are the pitfalls to be wary of?
Running a retail operation takes one back to business basics, i.e. “money IN is better than money OUT”. It is a very complex business that requires senior-level negotiations on major fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands, managing a fleet of tuk-tuks, training and developing young entrepreneurs and ensuring a red-carpet delivery service to our customers. Our clients are the most price sensitive and the best informed FMCG consumers in SA.
Q. What qualities do you look for in the drivers?
Every vehicle requires three positions – driver, operator and marketer. Drivers clearly need to operate safely and maintain their vehicles. Operators pick and handle stock and schedule orders to ensure the highest efficiency. Marketers need to have passion and be able to originate new sales. Everyone should have the highest level of integrity, an entrepreneurial attitude as well as excellent customer relation skills.
Q. What is the most important thing today’s youth should learn?
Good habits are not made at New Year. The workshop of character is everyday life. The uneventful and commonplace hour is where the battle is lost or won.
I would also like to remind you of the following:
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Steve Jobs
Q. What inspired SIYEZA Shop?
SIYEZA emerged from various opportunities that we were investigating within Thebe. We are fortunate to have worked (and still do) with great people at Thebe from whom we could draw inspiration and support.
Q. Where is SIYEZA Shop heading next?
We need to a reach profitable Earnings before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) level and develop our first hub in Kathorus (Katlehong-Thokoza-Vosloorus) into an easily replicable model. Then look into expanding to other areas, bringing along further stakeholders and even more job creation and community development initiatives.
Q. Tell us more about who you are.
I am a passionate entrepreneur and 100% African. South Africa is the home of my heart and land of my birth, smoke-coloured stone and flame-coloured earth. I graduated as a mining engineer from WITS and went on to spend several years in London, having developed globalCOAL (the world’s online coal marketplace). Then, as an investment banker/commodity trader, the Credit Crunch of 2008 brought me back to SA and I was, ultimately, lucky enough to cross paths with Thebe.
Q. How do you unwind?
I write and read, mostly philosophical and historical novels. I also enjoy spending time with my kids and showing them our great country. I’m involved in several fraternal and charitable organisations. Sometimes, I indulge in a great South African red wine or a glass of Talisker, whilst dreaming about building a yacht and sailing around the world.
Q.What is next on your list?
SIYEZA. I’ll think about what comes next once SIYEZA is a runaway success. Seriously though, I intend taking a good long holiday next year to catch up with my ancestral French and Scottish roots and search for the hidden Knights Templar treasure. Also, once SA embraces market deregulation and evolves into more of a free-market economy, there is an incredible opportunity to develop Thebe Markets, to provide online marketplaces for power, diesel, gas, carbon, coal, chrome, potatoes, meat, etc.