Hogins says blockchain safest way to transact
E-commerce platform to help township entrepreneurs
“We’re taking Africa to the world, the same way that Ali Baba brings China and how Amazon brings America to us, we want to take Africa to the world,” says entrepreneur Tim Hogins, who recently launched the first block chain e-commerce platform for township businesses.
The 42-year-old is a chairman and CEO of Hogins Enterprises, a diverse group of companies that has brought South Africans Green Outdoor Gyms, GOG Lifestyle Parks (GOG Gardens Soweto) and Happy Island, the biggest water theme park in Africa.
Hogins, who hails from Randfontein, started off as a security guard. He said it’s been a challenging 10 years setting up and running his businesses, but that his first job as a security guard equipped him for the gruelling hours.
“It feels like I haven’t slept well in 10 years, but my first job as a security guard conditioned me to wake up early, I had to be on duty at 6am. I always tell people that poverty is not a bad thing, it’s just a card that life dealt you and you must just play it," he said.
Hogins is passionate about giving back to the community. He has a nonprofit organisation called ZA Youth Movement, and he says there’s a reason his businesses are all easily accessible to people in townships. He grew up in a township, in a family of five kids, and at home they sold everything from koeksusters to bunny chows to make ends meet. This is where he got his entrepreneurial spirit from.
Two years into his security guard job, Hogins came across a bursary to study information technology and after getting his qualification, he worked for companies such as Dimension Data and EOH.
“That enabled me to pursue my entrepreneurial gift of improving the lives of those around me, my life and those of my family. Now, 10 years later, I’m celebrating 10 years in business, I have seven different companies of which I’ve been treating as an ecosystem," he said.
"All these years I have been treating my businesses as an ecosystem to finally give back to people. And what better way to do that then by an e-commerce platform that can not only empower entrepreneurs, but also employ in this regard.”
Blacq Market, the e-commerce platform he has just launched, has been in the works for four years. Hogins said that Covid-19 actually assisted him because it brought the importance of being online for informal traders and SMMEs to the fore.
“My platform operates on a blockchain, a blockchain is currently the safest way to transact; your bitcoin and all these crypto currencies run on a blockchain. So, my platform is blockchain-based and how it’s different from what is available currently is that it’s more secure,” he said.
It feels like I haven’t slept well in 10 years, but my first job as a security guard conditioned me to wake up early, I had to be on duty at 6am. I always tell people that poverty is not a bad thing, it’s just a card that life dealt you and you must just play it
On the platform, goods will be manufactured on demand as informal traders do not have huge warehouses where they manufacture goods in bulk and store them. This is also expensive for them. A consumer will place an order for a product, pay for it and will be able to pick it up at a Postnet branch closest to them. Hogins said that Postnet is the safest as it’s counter to counter and cheapest way to get goods around the country. On the platform, all packages below 5kgs are shipped free.
For traders, their first 12 months on the platform is free and after that they will pay a R100 monthly store fee. Consumers can get on the platform by applying to be on the platform and for those who don’t, they will be helped by shop assistants.
“’Because I had to take certain factors into place, [such as that the people in the townships, the SMMEs, your informal traders don’t necessarily have the knowledge on how to go online], so I have created shop assistants," he said.
"The shop assistant job is up for grabs to students and those who are unemployed. We train them on becoming shop assistants and assisting business owners, they will literally go into a township, find a trader and create a store for them on the platform and they will manage that stall. For every product they sell, they will get a small commission and that will ensure that the stall stays alive. By doing that I am not only empowering the trader by ensuring their product is available nationally, I am creating thousands of jobs in the process.”
Hogins plans on going Pan African and then global with his e-commerce platform. The platform also allows for split payment so that a community can make a payment for a product they want.
“'This can be used for fundraisers, this can be used for donations, this is very unique and can I say once again that the way we built the market was aimed at empowering the informal, SMMEs and also creating jobs. The split payment also allows for that, where a community or church wants to buy a product, they buy on the system and everyone can pay towards it.”