He started selling The Big Issue back when the publication’s offices were still located in Wynberg. He claims that being self-employed isn’t something that’s new to him.
Words and Photography: Yonga Balfour
Orginally from Lady Frere in the Eastern Cape, the 44-year-old father of three moved to Cape Town with his family. He started selling The Big Issue back when the publication’s offices were still located in Wynberg. He claims that being self-employed isn’t something that’s new to him.
“I used to make and sell bed and cushion covers, but business is business. My operation came to an end, and I even sold the equipment to put food on the table for myself and my children. After some time of not having an income, I started selling The Big Issue. My first pitch was in Claremont, after which I moved to Newlands, followed by Cape Town and then I ended up here in York Road, Green Point,” says Zola.
“I love my pitch because I don’t have any competition here. But even if I did, my customers are important to me – we have a good relationship and customer service is everything to me. My pitch is right at the robots and winter rain is upon us, but because I believe in quality service, I make a point of ensuring that the magazines aren’t wet from the rain,” he adds.
Big Issue at your doorstep
Zola says he enjoys being an entrepreneur not only because he has previous experience of this kind of work, but also because customer services is a lively field. He sells the magazine even before he reaches his workstation.
“When a new issue is out, I have copies that I deliver to loyal readers. I take the magazine to their workplaces and to some of their homes. I get to sell to other people while making my deliveries.
“I always try to find out what my readers love about the magazine. The majority like to read about celebrities who do good for communities. Many also enjoy articles about nature, education and endangered animals,” says Zola.
By saving money and getting support from readers, Zola has built his family a home in Khayelitsha. He thanks his loyal customers; with their support he also earned his driving license.
The Big Issue appeals to all public space and shopping mall owners, managers and operators in the greater Cape Metro area to allow our vendors to sell magazines at their sites. It can be hazardous and physically exhausting to sell The Big Issue at traffic light intersections, especially during winter. We would like to see more vendors selling the magazine in a safer environment. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to become involved.