Amos has 2 children still at home, along with his wife Sarah. His sister and sister-in-law also stay with them. He has a nice house in Hammanskraal that he built years ago. Sarah works as a “domestic”, a term used here to describe a maid/nanny, in Pretoria and rides a bus there and back every day. Amos and Sarah combined make less than $500/month in these two jobs. To supplement their income, a few years ago Amos opened a “tuck shop”. If you drive through any township in SA, you will see many tuck shops on street corners. Most of these are little tin shacks, maybe 10’ x 10’, that sell candy, bottles of Coke, bread, aspirin, chips, etc. “Mafa’s Tuck Shop” at the corner of Amos’ property was no different. His sister Martha managed the business most of the time while Amos was here. The profit from the tuck shop added around $400-500 more income per month to their household.
While talking with Amos in 2008, he told me about his dreams of expanding his shop. The problem people face in SA, and in most of Africa, is that getting a loan to expand a small business is not very feasible. He didn’t make enough to qualify for a loan from a bank, and even if he did, the interest rate would be over 10%. His monthly income also didn’t provide the opportunity to save up for this either, as he and Sarah earned enough to just cover their expenses and occasional emergencies, even with no house payment and no car.One of the areas of missions that I was exciting about when moving here was reaching people through business. I had hoped (and still do think it will happen) to do this through the gas station and convenience store we planned to own and run. But I was also hoping to get involved in smaller loans to help people start or expand their small businesses.
In July of last year, Amos and I talked about what was going to be needed to expand his shop. Part of that discussion involved going through his records to see what kind of monthly loan payment he could afford, even if the new shop didn’t result in higher profits. With our lack of income at that point (and still today), a $3000-4000 loan wasn’t feasible for us alone. So I approached several friends back in the US(and one US couple currently living in SA that goes to our church) that I knew had similar hearts for missions. It didn’t take long to come up with the funds to get started. Amos and I agreed on a loan repayment schedule with an interest rate well below the going bank rate here in South Africa.
Fast forward about 6 months and we were very excited on a Saturday two weeks ago to see the grand opening of the Tame’s General Dealer shop(Amos used the initials of all his family members to create the new name). Since “tuck shop” refers to a small shop, Amos’ new shop no longer qualifies as such. You can see in the picture above that his old place was basically made up of corrugated iron and wood planks with a cement/mud floor and was about 12’ x 8’ in size. His new shop is about 25’ x 15’ and is made of bricks with a nice tile floor and brightly painted walls. With the bigger size and added security that a brick building offers, the local Coke distributor agreed to give Amos a Coke fridge to use to sell their products, free of charge as long as he continues to buy directly from them. Part of our loan also went toward purchasing a small soft serve ice cream machine, something no other shop in his area had. Last week Friday, 5 video games were delivered and installed (including a classic Ms. PacMan!). Amos doesn’t have to pay for these games, but he shares the profits from them with the owner. At a cost of only R0.50(less than $0.07) per game, Jonna said maybe she’ll hang out there more often and become a PacMan pro. The bigger size also allows Amos to purchase larger quantities of products at the wholesale warehouse because he has storage space, meaning cheaper costs and larger profits.
We pray that God will bless his new shop for many years to come. We hope to find another opportunity like this in the next 6 months where we could reinvest Amos’ repayment funds to fund another project.