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Marie-Louise: Retail Store


Marie Louise is originally from the Kasai province in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She arrived in South Africa in 2003, fleeing her country as a result of political persecution. Marie now enjoys refugee status in South Africa, but faces xenophobic violence and was forced to relocate to a safer area two years ago. Despite these hardships, she has built a successful business in South Africa, selling handmade jewelry and handbags made from African materials. Her business supports her husband and three children.

Recommendations & Results

Close the wholesale store

Marie Louise closed her wholesale store to avoid the competition she was creating  against her retail store. She used to travel every month to supply her wholesaler with new stock, now she only travels 3 to 4 times a year. This reduced her operating costs which in turn allowed her to increase profits through only focusing on her retail store. Marie Louise used to sell  500R to 1000R per day but now her sales have doubled from 1000R to 2000R per day.

Set fix prices & focus on flagship products

Marie Louise has differentiated her business by cutting the number of products from 20 down to 5 flagship products that are only offered at her stand. The uniqueness of her products enabled her to set fixed prices, while the minimal number of items offered enable her to better control her costs.

Employee incentive

Along with paying employee wages, Marie Louise now incentivizes her employees. She pays a commission of 5% on the sales made by each employee at the end of the day.

Going Further...

Marie Louise is now struggling with her refugee status, which prevents her from opening a business account, as well as applying for loans and the government housing construction programme.   

Marie Louise’s business shows how some entrepreneurs rely on tourism. Similar to Fezekile who performs jazz music for tourists that visit the townships, this sector can generate a source of revenue for many people. Unfortunately, it has a limited impact on development and empowerment in the community.

Fast Facts

> 2 employees

> Unique flagship products imported from Mozambique and Congo

> Owns retail store and wholesale store


> Increasing sales to make the business sustainable

> Reducing operating costs

> Managing sales people