PROFILE: Maphopha’s dream to grow rural spaza shops

This Witsie wants to challenge the likes of Checkers Sixty60, Woolies Dash and Pick n Pay ASAP.

Born and raised in Tafelkop, Limpopo Lethabo Maphopha, a fourth-year Wits University medical student is the founder of BroughtCargo, an online e-commerce website. 

BroughtCargowas was established in 2022 to help spaza shops in rural areas expand and provide them with easy access to bulk suppliers. 

The 23-year-old businessman believes that for local spaza shops to thrive unity is needed. “If Spaza shops can buy bulk products, they can afford to make a certain profit, because like they come at a certain lower cost but street vendors and other Spaza shops they can’t afford to buy them alone,” he said. 

Tokelo Matsepe, an actuarial specialist and Maphopha’s business mentor, told Wits Vuvuzela that he decided to take Maphopha on as a mentee after seeing his passion and love for business. He believes that BroughtCargo is a great initiative for underserved communities. “When people design products, they never think about the Spaza shops and small businesses,” said Matsepe. 

Maphopha’s late father was his initial inspiration, he was a spaza shop owner who was struggling to expand his business, all while supporting a family of eight. Maphopa attributes this to the bulk buying tactic used by foreign-owned spaza’s, who are then able to sell goods much cheaper than most.

BroughCargo, was placed fourth in the 2022 Nedbank Green Superheroes competition for helping to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The competition recognises the efforts of small businesses which incorporate ‘green’ practices in several aspects of their operations.

Lethabo Maphopha stand in front of a bookshelf, he says much of his success comes from his love for books. Photo: Mpho Hlakudi

When asked about how a medical student learned about business, Maphopha said he reads a lot of business books and from the experience of others. Maphopha’s role model is Anna Mokgokong, a former Wits medical student and businesswoman. 

Friend and Wits Bsc Chemistry graduate, Khutso Fenyane, is helping him with business mentorship and applying for funding and incubation opportunities. 

“I first met [Lethabo] through his uncle and he told me about his interests I discovered that we share common interests,” Fenyane said.

He said his greatest challenge is not having enough money which has prevented him from performing neuromarketing, a marketing technique that measures brain signals to help understand customers better and said juggling work with studies limits his time making it very difficult to compete with other businesses. 

Maphopha’s expansion plans for BroughtCargo, include turning the business into a Takealot for Spaza shops, so convenience can be more than a luxury for those with means.

FEATURED IMAGE:  Lethabo Maphopha poses for a portrait. Photo: Mpho Hlakudi