The spaza shop has long been an identifying feature of the township retail economy. Lately they have been coming under increasing competitive pressure, first from retail chains opening large-format stores in the townships and then from foreign-owned spaza shops.

In Cape Town, a Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation report on formalising informal micro enterprises found that 56% of spaza shops were owned and run by South Africans and 46% run by foreign nationals, of whom 80% were Somali.

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