More than 30 informal traders recently attended a one-day workshop organised by the City of Johannesburg’s Fresh Produce Market on the handling of fresh produce.
The workshop – held in partnership with Potato South Africa (PSA), South African Stone Fruit Produce Association (SASPA) and Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) – also sought to empower informal traders with basic skills to run their businesses professionally and efficiently.
The informal traders were mainly from the Mandela People’s Market, which operates from the Johannesburg Market in City Deep.
The workshop, held at PSA’s offices at the Bara Taxi Rank in Soweto, was aimed at educating traders on the different varieties of fresh produce, how to handle and store potatoes, merchandising, developing a business plan and accessing finance.
PSA’s Wendy Alexander explained the different types of potatoes and which varieties to use for different dishes.
She advised the traders that potatoes were best stored in a dark place to ensure they lasted longer.
Ruth Behr, who represented SASPA, made a presentation on the seasonal availability of stone fruit, their handling, merchandising, ripening and preservation to ensure they are safe for human consumption.
Nomonde Zulu of the GEP gave a talk on efficient business management practices, the drafting of a business plan, keeping a written record of daily transactions, financial accumulation, registering a business, saving and the responsibility of managing a business.
Crucially, she explained the importance of connecting with their customers.
“You can make customers happy by focusing on your experience instead of just the product. You need to change your business to retain your customers. To get a new customer is difficult. So, you should ask yourself: ‘What are the extra things that I need to do for my customers?’ You also need to know where your business starts and where it ends,” Zulu said.
She said there were organisations that could help them draw up presentations and business plans.
James Phaahla, Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market’s Marketing Assistant, said the workshop was “highly successful”.
He said most of the traders told him afterwards that the presentations made at the workshop would contribute to their development.