Initiative to boost car wash joints in townships

CALVIN Mahlabadie and his eight friends started a car wash in Phiri back in 2001. But it was not easy. They used space at a filling station but that did not work out.

A homeowner across the street lured the young men into operating from his yard but failed to deliver on his promise to pay them R350 per week.

"We were tired of being manipulated so we tried the car wash just opposite his car wash," Mahlabadie said.

"It was hard because we did not have equipment to clean engines but giving up was not an option."

But Mahlabadie and his friends may have found their breakthrough.

On Wednesday a new business model was launched by advertising firm Provantage.

In the initiative Provantage mounted a descent structure that Mahlabadie and his friends can use for the car wash.

The structure is designed to provide big advertising space for companies.

The companies pay Provantage, which has the branding rights, and 30percent of revenue generated from advertising goes to the owner of the car wash.

"With the money we get from Provantage we want to buy machinery to clean the engines and pay our water and electricity bill," Mahlabadie said.

He and his friends wash an average of eight cars on week days and on a good weekend the number goes up to 20 at R40 a car.

Provantage managing director Jacques du Preez said the new idea inspired entrepreneurs in townships where most car wash establishments are found.

"Our intervention formalises the car wash industry, improves their visibility and marketing," Du Preez said.

He said the initiative received a R4million boost from the Industrial Development Corporation.

Provantage received facelift and branding rights from the City of Johannesburg.

Emerging market researcher at Provantage, Nelisiwe Nyuswa, said car washing joints were going to empower black entrepreneurs in the townships.

"Promotions such as test drives will be conducted from the car wash, attracting more motorists to the businesses," Nyuswa said.