Taking a bite out of an industry of high-end fast-food franchises that excludes small businesses and ignores informal entrepreneurs
JDA Urban African Food Hub
What we were given:
What started as a project to locate informal traders in an open planned market in the inner city of Johannesburg, soon turned into an opportunity to develop a street food incubator for food entrepreneurs. In 2014, Kite Capital partnered with the Johannesburg Development Agency to find an innovative solution to informal food trading in the city.
The Mayor of Johannesburg at the time sought to create an African Food Hub which consisted of a culinary center, training room, restaurant and open air food stalls. This hub would be a celebration of the city’s identity as an African metropolis and cultural melting pot for the continent. While there is already a strong street food culture on the streets of Johannesburg’s inner city, with delights from many neighbouring African countries, a dedicated space for locals and tourists was needed.
This began a creative process for Kite Capital to imagine the space as a food accelerator, where food entrepreneurialism could be seeded. The project addressed the important need for managing the successful transition of informal food entrepreneurs to formal businesses, providing much needed security of formal employment in one of Africa’s largest cities.
The informal economy is an important enabler for job creation and economic growth. But requires solutions that seek to enhance this economy instead of destroying it through usual urban management models, creating an enabling legislative and programme environment is critical.
What we made:
Kite Capital partnered with UrbanWorks a Johannesburg based architectural firm to curate a dedicated space that houses the Street Food Institute, an upskilling project aimed at providing targeted training and focused support to dedicated street food entrepreneurs.
The Urban African Food Hub not only takes a friendly stance towards street food entrepreneurs, seeing them as far more than an urban management problem, but proposes providing support and skills to allow successful small scale business to grow and stabilize. This project goes beyond a call for changing city attitudes and less rigid regulation and seeks to support the vast potential of the informal sector with dedicated, on-the-ground business support.
It aims to achieve this by managing the space through two companies. Firstly, a non-profit company, continuously funded by external grants, that will provide the Urban Management aspects. Secondly a social enterprise company, only requiring external funding until it is independently sustainable, which will undertake business development and support, with the aim of eventually having a city-wide scope.
At the heart of the space is the Street Food Institute, which would house a specialized training organisation tasked with supporting, training and expanding the options of dedicated street food entrepreneurs. This has the potential for not only benefitting these small businesses directly but catalysing change and growth in the wider informal street food vending industry, improving product process and, ultimately, buyer and seller experiences.
This project is an ongoing intervention into the Park Station Precinct of Inner City Johannesburg, and the vast and rich potentials of this city and its citizenry.