Something for everyone:
Tigere ‘Bevin’ Masevenza is supporting his family and small businesses with an online marketplace for service providers
It’s common knowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for businesses, especially those of the micro, small and medium variety. Ongoing lockdown restrictions forced these companies to shut their doors and migrate online as citizens across the country – and world – were forced to practice stringent healthcare protocols. But coming to terms with this ‘new normal’ was a challenge for many business owners, who found themselves unequipped and inexperience to capitalise on the digital realm.
This is where Tigere ‘Bevin’ Masevenza stepped in. As the founder and one-man-army behind Homehelper, he saw an opportunity to help small businesses find a voice in the virtual market. And in doing so, he’s also created an opportunity to build something significant for his family and future.
In times of trouble
Launched in May of last year, Homehelper is an online marketplace where businesses can freely list their services, and where potential customers can find a provider best suited to their needs, request a quotation, and hire them – all from the same place.
“To put it simply, we’re like a modern version of the Yellow Pages, but completely online,” says Tigere. “The pandemic made it difficult for small business owners to advertise their work and find new customers. Many of them couldn’t afford to run expensive advertising campaigns on social media, and door-to-door pitching was simply out of the question. They needed an affordable platform, but nothing really catered to local businesses.”
Homehelper fitted the bill perfectly and in just over a year, more than 120 service providers started using the service to connect with customers. What’s more, the platform has been witnessing a steady growth in users too, with the application’s streamlined customer experience making it a breeze for users to scout, engage and review the various businesses on offer.
“In addition, we’re also now helping providers on Homehelper run social media marketing campaigns. So, if they have a new product or are running a special, we can make sure that more people see it,” adds Tigere.
Building a legacy
Originally from Zimbabwe, Tigere moved to Stellenbosch in 2010 to begin working as a software developer. But after a decade spent working for local firms, he had had enough and decided it was time to start a venture of his own.
“The first lockdown was really the turning point,” he explains. “I was thinking a lot about life and what I was going to show for it in the future. I’m almost forty and I realised that I needed to stop working for someone else and start building my own thing – something that could become my legacy and an asset for my family.”
His mission has, however, not been without its fair share of challenges. In fact, Tigere says that launching the platform in Stellenbosch proved to be a difficult task.
“At first, uptake in the local market was very poor,” he recalls. “A key reason for this was that, despite living here for more than a decade now, I’m not well connected to the movers and shakers in the region. When it comes to business, connections are key – even more so during times of trouble. For things to go smoothly, you need to have a strong network, but it can be tricky to get into those communities, especially as someone who is not originally from the area.”
As a result, Tigere decided to look beyond the Winelands and expand Homehelper’s reach across the Western Cape, with plans currently underway to extend further into other parts of South Africa too. But first, he’s determined to spend more time building his business in Stellenbosch and Cape Town.
“We want to become a household name locally, and then use that to springboard into other major towns, cities and provinces across the country,” he reaffirms.
“While we’ve seen modest growth over the past few months, I haven’t had the opportunity to go knocking on doors. But with the low rate of infections currently, now is the perfect time to make a move,” concludes Tigere.
To stay in the loop and learn more about Homehelper, go to www.homehelper.co.za