African Small Businesses – On the rise despite the challenges

IMG_4307_webAs the number of African Australians increases, more and more specialty shops are springing up, selling the products people used to buy back in Africa.

And while many of these shops now supply a huge range of goods across Adelaide, many African Australians are now facing up to the challenges and risks of operating a small business.

SALT Magazine visited Aime Ruigira, an upcoming African entrepreneur in Adelaide to talk about his shop African Pride Superstore in Woodville Park.

Aime arrived in Australia in 2001 from The Congo and is married with three children. He arrived with a Master’s Degree in Economics, but, as is the case with so many other qualified new comers, the degree wasn’t recognised here. So Aime had to revise his plans.  He worked a while, saved some money, then used his economics background to do something he was passionate about – starting a business.

The door to the Kilkenny Road shop opens with a welcoming chime. Rows of shelves are stacked with a variety of goods sourced from Africa – including Palm Oil, Pounded Cassava, Yams, Kenda, Eegusi, to name just a few – popular ingredients and condiments for the African community, especially those from West Africa.

IMG_4281Customers come and go and Aime serves every one of them with a smile, while his wife is busy at the far end of the shop braiding a client’s hair.

At the moment, Aime works another job to help finance his growing business, which he hopes will one day create job opportunities for those who find it hard to get mainstream employment. Although he and his wife have to work ‘swap shifts’ in the shop, they are happy to face the challenge head on and are positive the business will continue to grow.

His customers  are from varied backgrounds;  Australians, Africans, Indians and many other nationalities drawn to buy from one of the four departments – cosmetics, hair products, grocery and  clothing, or to get beautified in the hairdressing salon.

Aime welcomes the competition from other African shops. ‘It’s all good,’ he says, ‘my business doesn’t only target Africans, it targets everyone. I love Australians because they love to taste different foods from different countries… so I am getting a lot of Australians. The more Africans opening businesses, the better. Competition is good.’

IMG_4274On a more serious note, Aime faces many challenges including increased electricity costs, taxes and across-the-board rises in the cost of doing business. He says State and Federal governments need to be more supportive of small business, particularly those in new and emerging communities which have the potential to create employment.

For those who want to follow in his footsteps, Aime’s advice is ‘Know what you are doing, have some knowledge of business, and prepare to work hard’.

CONTACT African Pride Superstore
15 Kilkenny Road, Woodville Park, Adelaide
PHONE (08) 8445 1552
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Sidique is the founder of Salt Magazine. He came to Australia in 2001 after fleeing a civil war in his homeland of Sierra Leone. He studied journalism at Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone and worked as a reporter for the Statesman Newspaper. He studied a Bachelor of Arts specialising in Multimedia Studies at the University of South Australia.

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