New tech startups aims to provide affordable groceries for townships 

Thrift online, a new South African tech startup has created an innovative new platform that elevates the traditional stokvel business model, digitizing it to reduce the cost of food for township communities while simultaneously generating employment opportunities. 

Thrift online aims to provide affordable groceries for township communities

Thrift online

Founded by local entrepreneur, Thabiso Mongane and based in Johannesburg, Thrift online is a social impact tech startup that aims to make a concerted positive difference in township communities. 

Thrift online aims to alleviate food insecurity in Africa’s most vulnerable communities by improving access and decreasing costs of food and grocery items. 

In an official interview with Ventureburn, Mongane provides insight into what makes the tech startup unique. 

“Unlike any other retail or eCommerce business, we leverage the one strength that these township communities have, their numbers to counteract food price inflation. We work with spaza shops to reinforce their collective buying power and strengthen their position in the value and supply chain turning them into a single buying group under our banner. Finally, the power of the little guy can be multiplied exponentially by just using a digital platform to coordinate all their buying preferences and using data to provide them with powerful insights on how to improve their businesses and share value with their respective communities.”

Supplying spaza shops and locals, purchases are made through Thrift online’s web-based platform. Purchases are aggregated, regardless of geographical location to purchase goods in bulk. 

In addition, the online platform provides accurate information from data collected on the platform to help Spaza shop business owners improve their business model. 

 “Our digital stock management and inventory enables us to allocate and trace different products and stock levels to individual Spaza’s, keeping track of their stock levels, and helping them track turnover. We believe that formal retail formats have nowhere left to grow and that we can pioneer the future of alternative retail in the informal market in Africa. We can formalize the informal retailer and the informal retail pathway through tech,” explains Mongane

Currently, the platform operates in Alexandra township and Sowteo. 

Mongane explains the social impact that the tech startup aims to have on the local communities. 

“Our impact will be felt in the reduced township households who will go to bed with food in their stomachs and not just any food but good quality healthy food. We are fanatical about becoming a retail pathway for proudly South African manufacturers and producers of FMCG products and we plan to empower 1000 small Independent FMCG brands by creating an alternative distribution and sales pathway through our network of Township Spaza’s and ultimately creating 224 new youth employment opportunities in the retail tech economy.”

Future of Thrift online

The tech startup plans to expand its operations over the next 18 months to East-Rand and Pretoria township areas. In addition, Thrift online plans to secure partnerships with 18 additional independent FMCG manufacturers and create its prepaid payment system to improve access to money management in the township. 

‘”…to shock the world with an innovative food distribution IOT system that will reduce the cost of a decent meal for a family of four to just under R80.00,” concludes Mongane. 

Read more: SA legal tech startup aims to reduce legal bills
Read more: SA startup finalist in Global Startup Awards 

Featured image: Thabiso Mongane founder of Thrift online (Supplied) 



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