The aspect of township entrepreneurship is quite a huge undertaking in neighbouring South Africa. I also believe that if the same is cultivated locally we can unlock a lot of positive gains in metrics such as poverty alleviation, employment creation and female empowerment, just to mention a few. Remember our nation has roughly 70% of the population resident in rural areas meaning that quite a sizeable number of people reside in or near townships. Township tourism entails activities within catchment areas of townships that are leveraged on to lure tourists. The beauty of township tourism is that it confines most of the revenue generated in those townships. Another thing is when we’re talking about township tourism don’t just think of foreign tourists only. There are lots of locals who have never had a feel of township culture – they’re also potential tourists. Let’s look at some business ideas in this domain.
Native Foods And Beverages
The crux here is to focus on themed foods, dishes or cuisines that are traditional and native to Zimbabwe. One can open up a fast foods outlet that’s exclusively for local dishes (prepared on the fire) – even going as far as offering dishes specific to that location. The aim is to ensure every step of the process is premised on township culture. You can focus on providing services for cook-outs, braais and the like. The other focus could be the retailing of native traditional foods such as nuts, small grains, madora, dried vegetables and the like. To make such businesses alluring, you can be creative enough to build the necessary infrastructure based local traditional architecture. What I mean is building huts, using traditional utensils like microbe, wooden plates and so on. So servicing the food market in townships would be strategic for township tourism. You just have to do some research to see which one is strategic for your area. Then there’s the beverages domain from non-alcoholic to alcoholic. Think of traditionally brewed beer or the shebeen culture. Instead of the usual shabby way that’s done, you incorporate those aspects into well-structured and township-themed drinking joints.
The idea here is to provide rental or booking accommodation for various types of people that’ll be visiting these townships. Structures can be hut-themed or premised on types of accommodation common in that township such as semi-detached houses, the aspect of communal bathrooms, self-service houses and the like. If you’re creative enough you’ll be getting lots of money from servicing the accommodation aspects. There’s a huge gap that I’ve noticed in townships with respect to accommodation. It’s usually hard to find decent rental and booking accommodation in townships. I even think it could be one of the reasons why prospective tourists aren’t keen on visiting to explore township culture. So I’m confident there’s money to be made in that regard. Also, you can think outside the box by venturing into campsites such caravan parks where visitors can just pitch their tents or park their caravans or any type of mobile home. It’s now a huge trend for tourists to travel in convoys so having a campsite is a sure way of making money in townships. The beauty of campsites is that they make it possible for various other entrepreneurship endeavours to be nucleated in one place.
Art And Crafts
I once spoke at length with someone from Harare who’s into arts and crafts. The range of artefacts that can be made from natural native raw materials is so broad. One approach can be to have a curios shop (or simply a tent or desk nicely setup) where various types of locally themed products will be for sale. The other angle can be to have artists like this guy I just mentioned actually working on location as well as selling their products. If you go to Great Zimbabwe you’ll notice this is common in the communities within the vicinity. The truth is every township or community has interesting art and crafts activities local to those places. Sculpting is one other common example that can be set up professionally to provide an alluring touristic feel and also creating room for entrepreneurship for the craftspersons.
This is definitely a hit because people naturally love entertainment. You can come up with ways of setting up indoor or outdoor entertainment events showcasing our rich local heritage through music, dance, poetry, and the like. This will bring life to the other business ideas I cited earlier such as food and beverages and the accommodation aspects plus many more. We have a lot of talented local artists who perform locally-themed genres of entertainment. You don’t even need to necessarily focus on big artists. I know there are lots of grassroots people who are talented in this regards and you can give them a platform to showcase their home-grown talents. I’m just painting a picture for you but I’m sure you can be enterprising enough to come up with witty initiatives for entrepreneurship in the local entertainment arena.
So if you had never thought about making money through township tourism, give it a shot. In SA the ekasi culture is a big deal and lots of money is being made through the establishment of businesses centred on township tourism. So there are definitely remarkable prospects locally because it’s an industry that’s still to really take off. I’ve just taken time to highlight just 4 areas of business ideas or opportunities in this domain but the list is quite long. Hopefully, this will nudge your creative juices to start thinking of making your mark in this promising industry.