While the food service industry has taken hard knocks during the Covid crisis and many restaurants have closed, “pop up” eateries, operating out of containers, are offering job opportunities and hope in some of South Africa’s most impoverished rural areas.
And, in the Abel area of Limpopo – part of a district where the unemployment level hovers around 50% – medical doctor Khutsisho Dibeila said she could have invested her savings in property.
But by taking on a Galito’s Galipod franchise, she has been able to offer jobs to people who might otherwise have been unable to find work.
Originally launched by flame-grilled chicken franchise Galito’s in 2016, Galipods are stores built inside fully-kitted containers that can be placed anywhere.
With a current 18 units be-tween Mpumalanga and Lim-popo, they have proven their financial success with a planned expansion rate of six per year, including this year.
Dibeila said that when she was in Pretoria in 2014 to study as an eye specialist, each time she returned to visit her family she was “touched by the level of poverty among young women, especially in far-flung rural villages”.
Starting off with a Galipod, she was able to achieve a turnover of between R150,000 and R250,000 a month and to open another restaurant in the Zebediela shopping complex. “I employed mostly women in an effort to empower rural women and make them breadwinners in their own families,” she said.
She said while the food industry had taken a huge knock during the Covid-19 lockdown, her restaurants survived by using good customer service and business methods.
When The Citizen visited the Abel Galipod recently, scores of people were queuing. Some said they had been there from early in the morning to get food and drinks before going to school or work.
The manager of Galipod in Apel, Zimbabwean Ntando Ngwenya, 33, said the restaurant sells mostly strips and rice, chicken and pap, chicken livers, and green beans and pap.
Ngwenya said he earned enough to be able to send good money back home to Zimbabwe for his family. Dibeila added: “Being able to lift others’ socioeconomic status gives me a great sense of gratitude.
“I have also become a good role model to the young ones in my village.” Galito’s group marketing executive Caitlin Winson said Galipods were located in sites close to taxi ranks, bus stops, filling stations or any area with a high volume of traffic or near shopping malls where there was enough action.
Winson said the average set-up cost for Galipods in 2020 was R700,000, with an expected monthly turnover of R150,000 to R250,000.
“But if the location doesn’t work as expected, the pod can be moved elsewhere in order for you to generate enough profit for your business.”