Maritzburg College’s Street Store uplifts lives, teaches lessons

25 April 2024

Maritzburg College hosted The Street Store for a second time on Tuesday, having first presented it in May 2023, as a corporate social responsibility project to help uplift people in need, which also delivered important lessons to the grade 12 Business Studies learners, who ran the project.

Tuesday’s event was overseen by three teachers, Mrs Wassia Khan, Mrs Zandria Elder, and Mr Omar Kajee, the Subject Head of Business Studies.

It was Mrs Khan who first proposed hosting The Street Store, which is, in the project’s own words, “The world’s first rent-free, premises-free, free pop-up clothing store for the homeless”.

She explained how she got the ball rolling: “The very first thing that I did was I developed a comprehensive proposal outlining The Street Store initiative, addressing its purpose, goals and potential impact, and I submitted that to the Headmaster, as well as the Deputy Head of Academics.

“I then received an enthusiastic response from them, ensuring their endorsement and resources for the project.

“I later communicated with staff by email providing an overview of The Street Store initiative and requesting sponsorship in the form of cash donations, non-perishable groceries, as well as clothing.

“I also engaged directly with the Business Studies’ boys, briefing them on the initiative’s objectives and inviting their participation in both planning and sponsorship efforts.

“This initiative is incorporated into the learner’s practical assessment. That’s worth 10 marks.”

Open for business, but everything's free! Maritzburg College's Street Store 2024.
Open for business, but everything’s free! Maritzburg College’s Street Store 2024.

The 2023 Street Store proved to be a heart-warming success, with the 75 residents from the Jika Joe informal settlement enjoying the freedom of being able to choose clothing items without having to worry about the cost.

After analysing 2023’s Street Store, some changes were made, with corporate sponsors adding non-perishable items to the Street Store’s inventory to provide a more substantial impact on the community being served by it.

On Tuesday, a total of 10 stores were set up by the Business Studies boys, working in groups of nine or 10, with the teachers assisting, if needed. Eighty people were bussed in for the unusual shopping experience.

Head of Business Studies, Omar Kajee commented: “Special thanks to Mrs Khan and Mrs Elder for going out of their way to assist.

“It was an experience from which the boys learned that in business it’s not only about making money. It’s about creating an awareness of community upliftment and social development. It’s a good opportunity for our boys to also realise that, and to interact with people who you are less fortunate than us and not as privileged as we are at Maritzburg College.

Mrs Elder weighed in: “A big focus of the grade 10, 11 and 12s’ syllabus is corporate social responsibility. That is the willingness of businesses to address the socio-economic issues of the country.

“One of the most prevalent socio-economic issues is poverty, and people who don’t have shelter, and that is what we are trying to address by giving the homeless people and informal settlement dwellers an opportunity to experience something that we often take for granted and that is walking into a shop and having the luxury of buying clothes.

“We try to give them a taste of what it is like, and this ties in well with the concept of corporate social responsibility. We’ve taken the syllabus and added a practical element, and the boys really enjoyed it.  I think it taught them a little bit more than what we can teach them in the actual classroom.”

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