Taking Ice Cream
to the streets of South Africa
Ola’s vendor programme has helped to improve the lives of over 1500 residents to date.
Nothing is guaranteed to put a big smile on your face quite like an ice cream on a bright, sunny day. In contrast, tackling an increasing rate of countrywide unemployment can seem a less joyful thought. Ola’s micro-entrepreneur initiative, launched in January 2013, is proving that ice cream truly could be the solution to our problems.
When it comes to selling ice cream, re-inventing the wheel has not been necessary. The old-school way of delivering delicious cones and lollies to consumers, by vendors travelling on bicycles, appears to remain the most effective way in South Africa.
"An original Ice Cream building block is taking your product where consumers are — something we’re rebuilding here in South Africa," says Gary Deakin, Ice Cream Customer Director for Ola.
Working with government, concessionaires and vending agents in building a sustainable economic model, Unilever South Africa, through the Ola Vendor Programme, has created 750 ice cream vending jobs nationally, providing sustainable employment for unemployed individuals throughout the local communities. The initiative not only benefits individuals, but communities as a whole, as vendors are able to support their families and pay school fees, without relying on government grants.
The programme has helped to transform the lives of, not only vendors, but vending agents as well. Mandla Ngubane, a vending agent, says “It was my dream to create jobs for people. Some of them say, ‘we thank you Mr. Mandla, because we are living because of you.’ ”
In the short film above, Mandla goes on to explain how ice cream has transformed his life: “Life has changed. It’s better than before. I used to suffer, but now things have changed. I love to sell ice cream, that’s my life.”
Ola funds and houses all equipment, uniforms and stock for the traders, who are able to purchase the ice cream stock at wholesale level – ensuring all profit made through sales is theirs to keep. The vendors are also offered training in sales, marketing, finance, stock management and customer service to help them build a strong business for themselves.
In addition to recruiting vendors and supplying equipment and training, Ola creates evolving opportunities as the initiative grows, working to secure event vending rights for its traders, rewarding the top performing vendors with the chance to sell at key events, like concerts and soccer matches. The brand also works with municipalities to allow vendors are able to provide secondary services, such as acting as tour guides for holidaymakers.
Based on the success of the initiative so far, Ola is looking for new ways forward. With an estimated 1500 jobs created in 2014, the brand is aiming to have 2500 jobs under its belt by the end of 2015.
With this in mind, there has never been a better excuse to eat a lot of ice cream next time you are out and about! If you’d like to find out more about the programme, or if you are interested in becoming an ice cream vendor or a vending agent yourself, get in touch today.