Business skills boost tuckshop profits

by Mihle Mapoma
22 April 2024
22 April 2024

Prudence Mgasheni joined SaveAct in 2019. At the time, she already had a tuckshop, and she started another at the beginning of 2023, using her share-out from 2022 to build and stock it. Her journey as a businessperson has had its ups and downs and she has learned that it is a lot more than just about managing staff and finances.

Mrs Mgasheni, who lives near Margate, KZN, is part of two savings groups, and shares that “I take a loan from the savings group and use it to order more stock. I am helped a lot. I do stuff for the home when I share-out, like buying an actual stove that comes with an oven. I have budgeted for other items, but I mostly push for the shops.”

Mrs Mgasheni has two full-time employees, one at each location, and she goes back and for the between the two shops. She opened the first tuckshop in 2006. “Then my husband built this house, and we instead added the tuckshop as an attachment to the house, instead of it being separate – that was in 2013”; The second tuckshop is in a different location and community entirely, started in 2022. She has had struggles with the employees’ situation at both shops. Mrs Mgasheni thought it pertinent to share that it’s not always sunshine and rainbows when running your own business, particularly as a woman and the disrespect that sometimes accompanies that.

“The young man I had hired (at the second location) got drunk and left the store unattended, in the first week, leading to the whole shop being looted, everything besides a few items. I had to then start from scratch again there, which I did. I fired him and instead, hired a young woman to take care of the shop, but the same thing happened.” Each time the tuckshop was broken into, it was right after Mrs Mgasheni had done a full restock. “After the second time, I sent the lady who used to work at this one (first and main), under my supervision, and sent her to the second location. She will run things there now, while I train the lady who was there previously – they’ve swapped places.”

Mrs Mgasheni said that from the trainings she received from SaveAct, the most useful changes and improvements garnered were record-keeping and advice on how to keep a business running, from Enterprise Development (ED) training. “I used to have another employee, a lady who’d worked here for five years. I taught her the record-keeping as soon as I came back from ED training, but she didn’t really take to it and complained about having to record everything. She hardly wrote down the sales, stock etc. After a month of her consistently refusing, I decided I would have to do so myself, and that would only happen if I was here or could check her work. I started recording in April 2023, and she quit because of that.” As much as this saddened Mrs Mgasheni, the customers had consistently complained about the aforementioned employee’s lack of customer service, which was another explanation of the low profits. She later pieced together that people weren’t buying from the shop because of the treatment they were getting. In addition to that, it turns out the employee was stealing from the tuckshop profits.

“I noticed that when I started record-keeping, there was a very big difference in terms of the profit I used to receive and what I actually saw it should be.” It was later revealed that the ex-employee had been stealing from the shop for years, and had stolen so much, and so often, that it was enough to build herself a house. “After she quit, she badmouthed me throughout the community, which also affected business,” Mgasheni says. “I’m now working on getting all those customers back, since I’m here full-time now.” Mrs Mgasheni has however now hired anew and taught the new employee how to keep record. “She does it well and without qualms,” she comments.

As a business owner, Mrs Mgasheni also has to work around the problems that come with living in South Africa – loadshedding and crime. “I make and sell food as well, such as vetkoeks, but make sure to work around the loadshedding schedule. For example, I will boil water right before loadshedding hits, then leave the dough to rise during the time it’s gone, so that when it comes back, I can start frying”. With her 2023 share-out, she set herself the goal to get new burglar bars for both shops, and a new door for the front of the main tuckshop.

“I thank SaveAct. It’s opened my eyes as an entrepreneur. I used to just sell things for the sake of selling, so I could have something else to do after I stop working. But now I’ve grown as a person, and so has my business. I am very thankful for the education, and the introduction to the savings methodology, that in turn helps my business.”

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