Partnerships the answer in developing IT industry in South African townships

Image: Flickr – Adesha

By: Thandiswe Mgudla – AfricanBrains

The telecoms and IT industry is slowly but surely becoming a force to be reckoned with in South Africa’s townships.

In Cape Town, the Lagunya Internet Business Centre which recently opened a second site, in Shop No 1 by the popular Mzoli’s restaurant in Gugulethu, will on Monday start trading in Langa.

The new Center is a joint venture between Justin Farnell, the CEO and Founder of Lagunya and Zoro Dela (check) the owner of the Spaza.

The partnership has resulted in increased footfall into the Spaza while bringing a second, additional revenue from the Internet Centre.

Lagunya is the creation of Justin Farnell, an English telecoms entrepreneur, who moved to South Africa 5 years ago.

Lagunya means ‘Langa, Gugulethu and Nyanga’ and is an African brand that is now rapidly growing through a revenue share model with Spaza shop owners.

Speaking at the official launch in Guguletu recently Farnell said:  “The revenue share approach is a fast, effective and scalable way of rolling out a number of new micro businesses this year. We have already opened a similar IBC in Jeffrey Malima (check) Spaza in Khayeltisha under the brand name Hakumo, which means Harare, Kuyasa and Monwabisi Park.

“In each case, I bring my technical and marketing knowledge to the business and the Spaza owners leverage their existing local relationships and shop facilities, whilst differentiating from their numerous competitors.

“As importantly, we are now bringing a whole range of PC and Mobile Internet services into the heart of these communities, where once they had to make expensive and time consuming trips into Cape Town.

“Lastly, all three Internet shops are self sustaining and cash flow positive within 3 months, creating jobs and much needed economic activity in these under serviced areas.

The expansion builds on the success of its first Business Center which has been trading on Emms Drive in Nyanga for nearly two years.

The Center offers all the traditional services that customers would expect from a City Center outlet, (high speed Internet, scan, fax and copy) but in addition the focus is to enable Gugulethu residents to improve their chances of gaining employment by offering CV writing and layout advice, email creation and basic PC skills.

Furthermore, local business people will now be able to have business cards and letterheads designed and printed at very compettive rates, and purchase refurbished PCs for under R2,000.

Lagunya regular customers will also now be able to pre-purchase Internet access time with their ‘Lagunya Loyalty cards’ and roam between the two shops.

The business center reveals it is also bringing competition and choice to the pre-paid telecommunications and banking sectors, which for too long have been dominated by a few large players charging excessive rates.

Lagunya customers can now purchase Neotel’s pre-paid CDMA phones for home office Internet access and on net free telephony. Set up and advice on the appropriate products will be provided by the Lagunya Center Managers.

In addition, Lagunya will be launching in partnership with IMB pre-paid mobile and PC banking. Customers can sign up for a pre-paid credit card without the need for a credit cheque. Banking charges are the lowest in the industry and Lagunya will be offering free 15 minute Internet sessions for customers wishing to do their online banking in the centers.