Katleho Nyawuza (32) has turned what was once a dilemma into a lucrative business.
Early last year, he was in Thokoza on the East Rand to get his hair cut, but his usual barber was not around, and it was difficult for him to find an alternative.
He initially started a Facebook page for local businesses in townships throughout South Africa before expanding on the idea into a mobile app in May last year. Since then, ExploreiKasi has become the go-to app for township businesses and customers .
"Then I understood that people wanted to know the business name, the trading hours, the product or service that is been provided, at what prices and the location of the business. Then we added pictures — visuals to see the offerings of the business," Nyawuza said.
Business owners can be added to the app at no cost, and people are able to access companies' details and pictures. This means that businesses can use ExploreiKasi instead of creating their own websites.
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The shops registered on the app range from barber shops to take-away joints — and even a sangoma, to be found in the health category.
"Yes, we have gotten more customers — a lot. Last time we had a Nigerian who was going to Vosloorus but came here."
Khehla Machitjie, the co-owner of Bimbo's car wash in Thokoza, found out about the app after he heard Nyawuza speaking about it on radio. Machitjie says there have been definite benefits to using the app.
"Yes, we have got more customers — a lot. Last time we had a Nigerian who was going to Vosloorus, but came here [instead]," he said.
Machitjie enjoys using the the app, saying he had tried other cheap alternatives, but did not find them as effective.
"Even Facebook did not help as much as ExploreiKasi."
Nyawuza says he has focused on ensuring the app is not data-intensive and plans to work with local government to enable people in townships to download it.
"The challenge that is affecting the whole of South Africa is data ... the app is less than 10MB," he said.
He believes "data must fall" in order for the true potential of his business to be realised.
One day, he hopes to employ a team of people to go door-to-door to help owners of township businesses download and use ExploreiKasi.