Township entrepreneur Linda Ndebele has always known how to hit the sweet spot with customers, going back to his school days, when he traded in sweets on the playground, and on to the opening of his own store, when he spotted a gap in the market for maize meal.

Now Ndebele has partnered with retail giant Pick n Pay to bring a new level of convenience to his customers in Pimville Soweto, with the launch last week of Linda’s Market.

This makes Ndebele the eighth Gauteng-based township entrepreneur this year to join Pick n Pay’s innovative spaza modernisation programme, which sees Pick n Pay and its partners in the programme upgrade spaza stores to meet the needs of customers and communities, helping to grow a new generation of modern retail entrepreneurs.

Ndebele’s first retail business was established in 2004, 10 years after he completed his matric, when he saw the opportunity to sell maize meal after a new product had been advertised.

The new product spurred demand in the township, but no one was selling it there, so he took the gap. When business started to slow, he bought a container spaza shop and opened Y-Not Tuckshop. To set himself apart, he added bunny chows to his groceries offering, and thanks to its success he opened his second Y-Not Tuckshop in 2009.

“My business was growing, but I wanted to do more, so in 2014 I opened my third Y-Not Tuckshop, but instead of selling bunny chow, we offered ‘Buy & Braai’, where our customers could buy their meat and we’d braai it outside the spaza shop,” says Ndebele.

“While business was going well, I realised I hadn’t grown as much as I should have over the past 10 years. The challenges I was faced with included supply chain management as I wasn’t able to buy in bulk and always had to buy in cash. Spazas are not well recognised, so when I had the opportunity to partner with a recognised brand such as Pick n Pay, I realised this was my chance to take my business to the next level,” says Ndebele.

The innovative Pick n Pay spaza modernisation programme enables local retail entrepreneurs to remain independent owners, but equips them with cutting-edge systems and retailing techniques to create a unique township shopping experience.

Pick n Pay has worked with its suppliers to fit Ndebele’s store with new refrigeration and IT systems, allowing him to stock 1 300 lines of edible and non-edible groceries, fresh produce and perishables. Linda’s Market will also offer Sowetan residents services like money transfer, ticketing, airtime and data, bill payments, lottery tickets and prepaid electricity.

Ndebele’s store now boasts a 91m² grocery trading floor and, once the liquor licence has been approved, a 56m² bottle store. A container was added at the back of the store to increase the servicing area and maximise trading floorspace.

With the launch of Linda’s Market, Ndebele has employed 10 staff members. He also still runs this three Y-Not Tuckshops, which employ nine people in total.

Pick n Pay deputy CEO Richard van Rensburg says many spaza shop owners struggle to access the means to grow and develop their business. “With the programme, these owners not only have access to quality products at good prices and a reliable distribution system, but the programme also implements good business management systems and provides business advice and mentorship to the owners so that they can succeed.”

The programme is a co-operative initiative between Pick n Pay and the Gauteng Department of Economic Development, with a vision to boost economic revitalisation in townships. Since the programme was piloted last year in Gauteng, 14 spaza stores have been upgraded and launched in the Gauteng region and two in the Western Cape.

“Store owners in Gauteng have performed well and their customers have benefited from a significantly expanded range of quality products at competitive prices, close to where they live,” says van Rensburg.

Ndebele says his customer’s feedback since Linda’s Market opened its doors has been “absolutely amazing”.


Issued by Corporate Image on behalf of Pick n Pay


  • Linda’s Market opened for trading on 14 December 2017 and is situated on the Cnr Mokgalo St and Mokoka St, Pimville, Soweto.
  • The spaza conversion programme was piloted in 2016 in partnership with the Gauteng Department of Economic Development. Six stores opened in 2016 and eight stores opened this year (2017).
  • Two stores have opened in the Western Cape: Nozinga’s Market in Gugulethu opened in October 2017 and Ndwamba Market in Nyanga on 14 December 2017.
  • Pick n Pay and its partners in the programme upgrade spaza stores to meet the needs of customers and communities, helping to grow a new generation of modern retail entrepreneurs (all store owners remain independent), and boost economic revitalisation in townships.
  • The store owners remain fully independent and can source products other than those offered by Pick n Pay. Pick n Pay sets minimum standards of operation, range, and pricing to ensure the model is successful.
  • Extensive mentorship is provided by Pick n Pay, as well as training which comprises both in-store and classroom training. This includes store systems and point of sale (including banking and cash management), finance management, customer service and entrepreneurial development. The shop’s staff also receive training which advances their skills.
  • The success of the programme lies in helping independent entrepreneurs stay independent, but even more successful with a range of trading and financial assistance.