Market helps families get through Covid crisis

Shoppers browsing at The People’s Market.

The People’s Market has been an oasis for families and small businesses that were left reeling from the financial impact of the pandemic.

Naseera Ebrahim, a support group facilitator, decided to start a health-and-wellness market during lockdown, along with two natural-health practitioners, to take people’s minds off the pandemic.

“I realised the importance of getting our people out of their homes and into the fresh open air, engaging in responsible social interaction,” she said.

The market opened, with 20 stallholders, in April at the Smuts Road Park in Rondebosch. Today it has grown to 60 stallholders.

Many households had turned to informal trading as a source of income due to the financial impact of the pandemic, Ms Ebrahim said.

Trader Shumeeze Johaardien, from Rondebosch East, found herself unemployed in April, and, with bills to pay and a family to take care of, she booked a stall and started selling bric-a-brac. Later, she sold koeksisters and savouries such as pies, samoosas and pizzas. Now she sells ready-made dinners.

“Due to the impact of Covid-19, many people have either been retrenched, companies closed down, or people’s income severely impacted. Many were forced to start small home industries, and those are the people that I support, in sourcing all my goods,” she said.

Ms Johaardien said The People’s Market had become a family affair, with her husband, children, grandchildren, and siblings, taking turns to help.

“The market is something everyone looks forward to, you have your regular customers, and it’s amazing to hear how news of the market spreads through word of mouth. For many it is an outing for the day, enjoyed by everyone, stall holders, shoppers and browsers alike.”

Ms Johaardien said the market had given her a chance at a new business venture, something she would not have thought of had she not booked that stall.

“It has helped me not only financially but has given me back my self-esteem, as now I can at least pay my bills.”

Saajidah Achmat, from Lansdowne, started her small business, Lekkertjies, a year ago. She sells brownies, cookies, cakes and other sweet treats.

Before starting her home bakery, Ms Achmat was a stay-at-home mom and a face painter for children’s parties and corporate events. But when Covid-19 struck, all her events were cancelled.

Ms Achmat said the last two years had been hard on many, physically, emotionally and financially, including herself.

“The market has literally been that safe space to breathe, feel supported, relaxed and to connect with others and for that I hope to always be a part of this market.”

There will be a market on Saturday March 19 and Sunday March 27 at Rondebosch Park, on the corner of Campground and Sundown roads, while renovations are taking place at Smuts Road Park. For more information or to book a stall, contact Ms Ebrahim on 084 773 3555.