Founders Spotlight: Thato Angela Chuma (Founder, Local Slice)

Through Local Slice, Thato sought to nurture a vibrant entrepreneurial culture in Botswana by digitally positioning local products, services and innovations through exciting avenues. Five years since the launch of the platform, the mission is still the same.

In this interview, Thato, whose array of talents include music, writing, and activism, takes us through the motivation for starting Local Slice, challenges the platform has come across, how they have surmounted them, and much more.

In your own words, please tell us who Thato Chuma is

Thato Angela Chuma is a creative entrepreneur, seasoned publicist, musician, writer, poet, curator and developmental activist. Above all, she is a passionate human being who intends to embody her purpose.

Please tell us about the platform Local Slice

The Local Slice spurred from the need to nurture a vibrant entrepreneurial culture in Botswana by digitally positioning local products, services and innovations through exciting avenues.

What was the motivation behind starting Local Slice?

It came about in 2018, inspired by my journalism journey where I interacted with numerous entrepreneurs who were doing amazing things but were unseen. There was a gap, especially on digital avenues and I felt the accessibility and visibility of local businesses would be easier and impactful on social media.  

How important are platforms like Local Slice in growing local entrepreneurship?

Seeing the positive ripple the campaign sparked illustrated the value of such a platform. Five years later it is still relevant. There has since been a shift, as gradual as it is, to localize our spending and to uplift and grow our budding industries. We have created a longstanding, digital catalogue of what Batswana are doing, and even foreign markets can better understand our offerings, which makes room for exporting opportunities.

What support do you think platforms like Local Slice should get to help them achieve their mandate?

There is a great need for collaboration relative to the value chain that is necessary to capacitate our entrepreneurs. At the moment we don’t have a unified voice that advocates for their changing, urgent needs. It cannot be done in siloed solutions. The private sector and government must acknowledge the importance of sourcing locally, and there must be concerted efforts to shift policies that enable SMMEs to survive. The approach towards growing our manufacturing talent must be aggressive and intentional. 

What challenges have you faced in scaling Local Slice?

Funding has been difficult, especially with COVID 19’s devastation of the SMME sector. We have a shelf campaign that is still struggling to take off in retailers due to numerous factors such as lack of collaboration and a reliable output from entrepreneurs. We have since reworked our avenues to see possible ways of expanding our mandate.

How have you been dealing with these challenges?

The nature of social enterprises is that passion must precede everything. It takes time to be profitable. My resilience comes from the fact that I see this enterprise as a duty and a calling, and I trust that all will fall into place.

On the other hand, how much traction has Local Slice had since launch?

Our social following and engagement have been great on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. We are working on new ways to enhance our interactions in ways that can further grow us.

What has been Local Slice’s proudest moment?

The Local Slice BW was shortlisted as a National Finalist for the 2019 Southern Africa Startup Awards under the Social Impact category, so that was an amazing affirmation of our work. The followership we gain from other countries is also encouraging.

What is your vision for Local Slice for the next 3-5 years?

To expand our avenues and to capacitate entrepreneurs in service delivery and upskilling themselves. 

What advice do you have for anyone looking to build a platform like Local Slice?

Resilience is key. Consistency too. Have a clear vision of what you want to do and follow it through. 

Please share your contacts for anyone interested in getting in touch with you

They can email or contact 75972453.

Interview has been slightly edited for clarity

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