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SA lockdown: Homeless booksellers in Durban raise R16 000 using e-commerce site

Richard Nzima from the Booksellers of Mzansi. - Picture: supplied

Richard Nzima from the Booksellers of Mzansi. - Picture: supplied

Published May 29, 2020


Durban - Two weeks into the national lockdown Durban-based Micromega Publications invited 14 homeless booksellers from the Booksellers of Mzansi project to sell their wares via their e-commerce site, which enabled the booksellers to raise R16 000. 

Booksellers of Mzansi is a collaborative project by the Denis Hurley Centre and Micromega Publications that allows homeless people around Durban to sell second-hand books to earn an income.

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Leading the initiative was Durban businessman and founder of the e-commerce site, Anivesh Singh.

With the rules of the national coronavirus lockdown in full force, it would have been next to impossible for the booksellers to continue earning an income through this project because they could no longer sell books on the street and in shopping malls. And so Singh decided to put their books up for sale online. 

The businessman announced the good news in a statement on Friday. 

“Thanks to your generous support, we managed to raise just over R16,000 for the booksellers. This money has now been distributed to them.

"Thank you! Your purchases on and donations have provided hope, inspiration and nourishment to 14 very special people.”

Richard Nzima from the Booksellers of Mzansi. Picture: supplied

With online sales spiking due to the Covid-19 lockdown, the booksellers could not believe their success. In his first 10 minutes of online business, Pat Khumalo, one of the booksellers, sold R235 worth of books, which is more than he makes an hour on a typical day. 

One of the project's oldest members, Richard Nzima, said: “I am not too familiar with ‘online stuff’, but Mr Singh has been helping us with it. We know in this situation that the country is currently in, people need books to read and because we cannot go out to sell our books any more, we put the books online and people can now buy them from there.” 

Relieved that the lockdown restrictions are now being eased, Singh explained that in the future the booksellers will return to their normal selling spots as well as keep their items online. 

“As we move forward and into level 3 of lockdown, the booksellers will be able to sell books in their usual spots. We will keep a selection of their books online and require that they put in more effort to market their online stock. Going forward, they will be able to sell their wares not only on the streets and in malls but on cyberspace, too,” Singh said.

African News Agency (ANA)

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