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Neigbourgoods market inspires a Soweto twist

See gallery. Neigbourgoods founder shares the secrets to Braamfontein’s success.

The Neighbourgoods Market not only draws ever-increasing, eclectic crowds – the brand is also giving rise to smaller markets seeking to cash-in on the idea.

Soweto’s popular precinct of Vilakazi Street in Orlando West will soon host a market based on the success of the Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein. The Locrate Market will be similar to the Neighbourgoods brand, notorious for bringing together food, art design and fashion.

There will be a twist though, as central to the market is bringing people to experience the nuances of township and its urban developments.

The market will be a first for Soweto, which aims to bring local entrepreneurs to showcase their offerings.

“Soweto is rich in terms of land and the number of people there. There is also a high concentration of millionaires and it’s all about making people interact with their township,” explains the market organiser Kgosi Rampa.

Rampa says there is appetite for such a concept in Soweto, considering the disparities of wealth in the township and the potential for entrepreneurial opportunities waiting to be explored.

“We met with the locals and they like the idea, as it has an uplifting aspect [to] it – in particular [for] small businesses in the township,” Rampa told Moneyweb.

Also part of the rationale for the market is to get people outside, particularly from suburbs and surrounding areas in the city, to interact with the township.

It took startup capital of R40 000 to plan the launch of the market, as the Locrate Market needs venue hire, stalls and logistical costs associated with its upkeep.

Kgosi says the market will be a weekly affair following a successful launch on February 2, which will serve as a litmus test for the market’s viability in the area.

The secret to Braamfonein’s success

While emerging markets seem to be standing on the shoulders of established, tried-and-tested markets, founder of the Braamfontein Neighbourgoods Market Adam Levy says the model of his market can be replicated into other parts of the city.

People in Johannesburg, he says, are open-minded and willing to try new ideas, which has been in favour of markets in the city, as “the whole concept is based on people who are culturally diverse”.

It’s the cultural diversity that brings cosmopolitan crowds to the market located on 73 Juta Street which has been a hit in Braamfontein, with over a million patrons having visited the market according to Levy.

The precinct has recently seen the roll-out of urban regeneration plans, involving the development of old buildings into art studios, restaurants, retail spaces, and apartment blocks.

Rationale for Braamfontein

It is Braamfontein’s urban redevelopment of old buildings which makes the location favourable to host the market in the area. Levy says there is also big enough capacity in the city in terms of the properties available, considering that “there are world class apartments and commercial prospects in the city”.

Levy’s company, Play Braamfontein, has ten buildings in its property portfolio and plans to maximise each building to invite tenants to be part of the vibrant and developing community.

“It’s the city’s diversity in terms of its clientele which sets it apart. There are different people based in the city. They all understand the power of who comes in here. It’s a unique social and cultural mix. This whole project is about showing what South Africans can achieve and show case what can be done with old buildings,” he says.

Revenues and future developments

On any given weekend, the market in Braamfontein is chock-a-block full with over 100 vendors and their goods on display. However, despite the number of feet the market has seen since its inception, Levy says the market is difficult to manage and financially not rewarding.

Though reluctant to give exact figures of the financial viability of the market, Levy says “sometimes it’s a break even chain exercise” to keep afloat and that expenses sometimes exceeds income.

“Markets and enterprises are difficult to manage. These things [upkeep of markets] cost huge amount of money, it’s about the nourishment of a space and bringing in crowds,” says Levy on the market being dependent on patrons who visit and their networks of potential visitors.

Despite the headwinds the market is facing, expansion plans are on the horizon. The ten buildings will see more bars, expansion of accommodation and retail spaces which will be integrated into the market. 

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