Lunga Momoza is Stellenbosch Network’s Entrepreneur of the Month for May 2022!
Lunga and his team has developed, Basket, a digital platform that connects township-based farmers with informal traders. Borne out of first-hand experience when he witnessed how the Covid lockdown affected his aunt who was an informal trader at the time, Lunga set his mind and entrepreneurial spirit to the problems in the supply chain.
“It was a very difficult situation. The tough regulations meant that only a handful of traders could stock-up on fresh produce. This caused a major backlog for farmers, who had to quickly find a new way of selling their goods before they perished,” he recalls.
Initially, the App met with little success.
“Truth be told, this was a fairly new and confusing technology for our market, so we went back to the drawing board. After more research, we found that – while farmers and informal traders lacked computers and a stable internet connection at home – they were very adept to mobile phones and frequently used WhatsApp to liaise with family and friends.”
The company then pivoted to a Chat-based model, with producers and retailers now able to meet and negotiate terms completely online.
Balancing business with academia
Lunga is studying International Relations and Economics at Stellenbosch University.
“I find it fascinating to learn about how changes in the global economy can have such a pronounced effect on people at a grassroots level, and I feel that my studies are contributing greatly to my overall understanding of doing business in South Africa – but I must admit, it is sometimes a challenge to juggle my entrepreneurial and student lives.”
His tenacious attitude and good time management has allowed him to find a balance when solving issues facing the business.
“Initially, I had thought that funding would be our major problem. However, as we grow, our focus is now on on-boarding more farmers and traders from across the province on to our system. This is complicated by the fact that we receive very little support from government stakeholders such as the Department of Agriculture, who are key to connecting us with big commercial players. But with time and persistence, we will be successful in reaching them.”
Momoza believes that young people in South Africa are fortunate to live in a country that presents so many challenges to its people.
“I see it as endless opportunities for innovation. As the next generation of leaders, we are faced with issues such as the high unemployment rate, which need us – the youth – to start thinking differently about how we solve them.”
He adds: “Especially young entrepreneurs, they should not be afraid to take that leap of faith, explore how and where we can make a difference, and utilise what we have available to kick-start our solution. We need to change our mindset, in which we tend to shy away from hardship, to one that welcomes adversity and recognises the growth and opportunity behind it.”