Ekhaya Store

Designing at the Base of the Pyramid, South Africa

As part of the Royal College of Art's annual Innovation Design Engineering module, GoGlobal, we travelled to South Africa to work with small business owners in Cape Town. We partnered with Nombeko, a general store owner to co-design methods to increase profits and develop a route to sustainable business expansion.

Nombeko had a high turnover yet there was lack of customer awareness of the stock sold and, common with many local entrepeneurs (and, let's face it, the rest of the world), confusion understanding and controlling her energy bills.

We developed a new floor plan and moved an internal wall so higher margin hair products could be seen from the kiosk window. For energy, we developed a low-tech solution of a cardboard overlay for electricity bills which explained it simply, and relevant methods to reduce how much has been used. Cape Town has a national energy supplier so all bills are identical.

September 2016: Six months on, feedback from Nombeko confirmed turnover had increased as a result of our changes, particularly the sale of high margin hair products.