Mzuzukile Soni strikes gold with 'buying black' platform

18 January 2021 - 13:35
By Karabo Ledwaba
Mzuzukile Soni founded the group in 2016
Image: Supplied Mzuzukile Soni founded the group in 2016

It has been five years since Soweto-based lawyer Mzuzukile Soni was called to action to create a pro-black business marketplace after he was bothered by a series of racist incidents which plagued South Africa.

The outcome was the radical Facebook page BrownSense which grew from a small private community to having over 200,000 members as well as a new e-commerce store.

"I was raging within but I had to ask myself if our rage will only be limited to the social media space. I decided to put my energy into building the page to create a space where buying black would be the default setting," said Soni.

The success of BrownSense Group has led it to being a business that employs five people as well as a number of volunteers who are committed to see it and it's subsidiaries succeed.

Soni, 42, who in 2020 launched a subsidiary e-commerce company called BrownSense.africa with Keitumetse Diseko at the helm said although the Covid-19 pandemic did make the need for an e-commerce store to be created, it was already in the works.

Keitumetse Diseko is the CEO of BrownSense.africa
Image: Supplied Keitumetse Diseko is the CEO of BrownSense.africa

"The desire for an e-commerce store was always there because we knew that Facebook could change their terms of conditions at any time which could mean BrownSense would have to change how it operates if that happened," he said.

The online store has dashboards that allows for the businesses to monitor how they are doing and move from only depending on doing business on social media.

Soni said before the lockdown the group also depended on having a physical market every month where consumers and producers could support each other but the lockdown has stopped that in the meantime.

He told Sowetan that many of the businesses that he works with have had to change how they operate because of the pandemic.

"Events management businesses have been hard hit, we have seen some of these people get into new businesses such as selling PPE supplies and eucalyptus oils. it was about how do they survive and maybe if and when business picks up then they can go back to what they were doing before," he said.

Soni told Sowetan that there has also been an increase in people being interested in buying products online.

"Because of the current situation, the mindset and behaviour is changing. Therein lies the opportunity for entrepreneurs in e-commerce," he said.

In the next five years Soni wants to see buying black as the default setting as well as a black owned bank.