Digital Spazas: digitizing and connecting informal spaza shops in South Africa’s townships


Currently, only 1% of informal retailers in South Africa accept electronic payments, and 56% do not have access to a bank account. These micro and small enterprises (MSEs) – also known as spaza shops – also find margins squeezed as they lack the relationships with manufacturers and wholesalers that enable many larger shops to enjoy bulk discounts, and are forced to travel to market to purchase stock.

In partnership with J.P. Morgan, BFA Global launched a program designed to improve the livelihoods and resilience of spaza shop owners in South Africa’s townships, following the COVID-19 crisis. BFA Global experts will support three South African fintech companies with innovation pilots over the next nine months – including A2Pay, Yebo Fresh and Vuleka – focusing on solutions across the value chain, including digital ordering, delivery of stock, digital stock management, wholesale linkages and access to appropriate financial solutions, such as credit to refill stock, that are relevant and affordable for spaza owners.

The companies will each receive grant capital, venture building support and connections with partners and corporate innovators who can help them scale their solutions to more spaza shops.

Companies supported

By supporting these three innovators, the programme will assist spaza owners to increase their operational efficiencies, sales and revenue growth due to more efficient digital stock management, increased control over purchases, and reduced costs of transportation and handling cash. Traders will also gain a digital financial identity that will enable access to digital financial services and working capital from other financial service providers or FMCG companies.


A2 Pay

A2 Pay

| B2B | Tools designed for spaza shops

A2Pay offers a combination of hardware and digital tools tailored to South African spaza shop needs, as well as digital credit, business training and coaching.

Yebo Fresh

Yebo Fresh

South Africa | B2C | Supply and delivery of stock for spazas

Yebo Fresh offers direct, optimised access to supply and delivery of stock for spaza shops in South Africa’s townships. The platform is inclusive of stock management, data analytics, and education to improve retail practices.



South Africa | B2B | Ordering and delivery platform for spazas

Vuleka offers an ordering and delivery platform for spaza shops in South Africa’s townships, facilitated through bulk buying from wholesalers, while enabling spazas to build credit profiles and access working capital loans.

Investment Advisory Board

The companies participating in the Digital Spazas program were selected by an objective board of advisors composed of seasoned investors, executives at major financial institutions, and leading experts in the township economy.


GG Alcock

Marketer, Entrepreneur Kasinonomics

John Staley

Former Director, Equity Bank, Kenya

Tilson Manyoni

Head of Policy, Black Business Council

Nikki Kettles

Executive Head of Programmes, FinMark Trust

Polo Leteka

Founder and Chairman, IDF Capital


Colleen Ebbitt 

Vice-President, J.P. Morgan Global Philanthropy, EMEA 

Ronelle C. Reddy

SSA Senior Finance Officer, Executive Director, JPMorgan