Working through Cape Town Together, a rapid community response to COVID-19, this project focusses on supporting 58 women informal traders from the communities of Gugulethu, Khayelitsha and Masiphumelele, who support their own and extended families through the income from trade. These women have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, losing their livelihoods and threatening the already precarious social determinant of health of this vulnerable community.


Tekano-Mafoko Phomane


Providing novel & integrated solutions in health for communities in remote places, in Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning & Technical Support Services for USAID/ South Africa’s Health Office.


Promoting socioeconomic justice for all, including addressing social determinants for health.

Tekano-Kentse Radebe


Identifying the processes and levers that lead to social innovation across various sectors, with a focus on health and mental health in the global south.

Supporting a community of non-South African informal traders in the midst of a lockdwon.

We are a team of three comrades, Kentse Radebe, Mafoko Phomane and Tinashe Njanji.

Together we realised the plight of informal traders during the COVID19 lockdown.  Our team identified groups of women who are foreign nationals involved in informal trading, these women face various hardships that deem them vulnerable while trying to make a living.
After conducting a  mini research via WhatsApp and phone calls we drew up a proposal seeking to address the needs identified which ranged from the lack of food and lack of shelter. We then embarked on a quest to:

  • Provide each woman with a monthly food aid voucher, as the most urgent identified need was that of food.
  • Strengthen existing social networks that provide support to, amongst and between these women.
  • Explore opportunities for self-organising into a formal structure during and post lockdown, where they can advocate for issues affecting them as migrant informal traders.

We identified that creating opportunities would be a good way to assist women informal traders as they are the main providers for their families and are therefore a very important group to support. Through this intervention, we hope to add value to their lives by providing these food vouchers and distributing them in their communities. We also hope that this project will encourage non-formal traders to organize themselves into networks and thereby link them with the existing association.

There have been positive developments in the area of asylum seekers and refugees now being able to apply for the SASSA unemployment fund, our project will also address the issue of exclusion of foreign nationals as they were left out from receiving these relief packages at the beginning of the lockdown. We hope that the project will change the government’s position and perspectives on marginalised populations.

 As activists, we are passionate about this project because it will address issues of health equity amongst this vulnerable population of women who are part of our community, they should not be left behind in accessing food and shelter which are basic human rights. The project at heart addresses issues of Social Justice in our community. Existing organisations that are meant to assist migrants are currently overwhelmed with not having adequate resources to meet the demand. This has resulted in life becoming a nightmare for most foreign nationals during the lockdown.

To date we have distributed 80 food aid vouchers to 58 women. Our project targets to distribute 174 food aid vouchers to 58 women, who are facing various challenges such as struggling to put food on the table, paying rent, buying nappies and providing meals for their children. Most of the women have mentioned electricity, warm clothing and blankets as their current biggest needs during this wet and freezing winter season. Sadly those who failed to pay rent in the past months are being threatened with evictions by their landlords, therefore we referred them to organisations that are dealing with such matters.

As our economy has been severely impacted by the COVID19 pandemic, there remains an increased demand for food aid vouchers as life under lockdown continues to be difficult for informal traders.  As team we would like to thank Tekano for making the funds available as the food vouchers are making a big differences in the lives of these desperate women.