’Plain markets its vibe

Vendors and shoppers at an evening market at RLabs First Thursday.

Mitchell’s Plain vendors, entrepreneurs and artists are set to take local businesses to the next level and raise the profile of this vibrant community.

Tomorrow RLabs, a non-profit company, hosts the area’s 10th First Thursday experience at their home, 55 Boschendal Road in Westridge.

Last month they hosted a pop-up market, including vendors from Aweh.co.za, an online market which started during the national Covid-19 lockdown to help support local small businesses.

The Plainsman met with RLabs chief Mareldia Wentzel, community upliftment programme Mitchell’s Plain Entrepreneurs Hub founder and director Lucretia Splinters and Ashley Potts, councillor for Ward 81, to discuss the impact of markets in Mitchell’s Plain, in boosting its economy and putting food on the table.

Today, Wednesday May 3, the hub is hosting a sustainable health living workshop hosted by entrepreneurs, husband and wife duo, Aurbon and Natalie Hurling, at Dagbreek community hall, in Westridge. They are set to share practices and self-care tips to help residents live more healthy lives.

Mr Potts said: “Mitchell’s Plain needs a market.

“Our people are hungry to be able to trade and not have to go outside of the area, to Milnerton and Muizenberg when they have the buying power right here in Mitchell’s Plain.”

He said in an attempt to avoid people working in silos he had identified the hub to coordinate various groups of people who would work together, and had roped them into his ward committee.

Ms Splinters is also Ward 81 champion for 2023 in the business sector.

She has brought in various guests and professionals in streamlining compliance and helping businesses to grow.

Mr Potts said the market space and vibe in Mitchell’s Plain was evolving.

“It has grown to have people from outside of Mitchell’s Plain and it can still expand in different dimensions.

“First Thursday has seen the community come alive. Vendors keep coming back and leave with majority of their goods sold,” he said.

Ms Splinters said there is still room for much more.

“We are using the power of social media.

“I’ve hosted and did the marketing of markets outside of Mitchell’s Plain, in other communities and it is a about giving this community that energy and life again.

“We can have awesome things happening in our community,” she said.

Ms Splinters said RLabs global profile, having offices across the world, would further boost the morale and dispel negativity residents and businesses have of themselves.

RLabs also hosts various digital courses as well as brings international guests to the area, in showcasing its talents and skills.

Ms Wentzel said it was about giving people hope to action their dreams.

“It is a meeting place to make connections and share expertise,” she said.

Ms Splinters said the vendors have become like family and have created a space for family to meet.

Mr Potts said it was great that family members could be entertained with a jumping castle or art work; parents could buy refreshments close by and not leave; grandparents could just watch all in the same space.

He proposed more entertainment at the market as well as an open mic space to boost local talent.

“People meet through our market. They connect. We need to bring the economy to the people but also keep the money to flow in that space. Our money must not go into the big business,” he said.

Ms Splinters said they were were working hard to keep spaces busy with activity to ensure that bad elements are deterred.

“People in our community must take ownership of spaces.

“We’ve got the mentality, we applied for a job now we’re waiting on a job.

“What are we waiting for?

“Yes we don’t have the all of the funds like other demographics.

“We can still take a step forward. We can still do something,” she said.

Ms Splinters said together they could become a catalyst for global opportunities, from within the community.

“The sky is the limit,” she said.