Vera Argyle (2019/20 MBA) never thought of herself as an entrepreneur.
However, within two weeks of arriving home to a locked down South Africa the self-described ‘risk averse’ accountant had founded Locked Fresh, a social enterprise that delivers boxed farm produce to South Africans struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic. The enterprise has already delivered 3000kg of fresh fruit and vegetables, sourced from surrounding family farms, to customers in Pretoria and local townships. Boxes are funded by donations from the public, and Locked Fresh has partnered with local community centre Stanza Bopape to deliver them to people in need. For-profit boxes can also be purchased from the website.
'On my flight home from Oxford, South Africa’s president announced one of the strictest lockdowns in the world,’ said Vera. This included the closing of restaurants and a ban on all takeaway deliveries.
South Africa had an unemployment rate of 29% prior to the pandemic, and a substantial informal economy. The lockdown put huge pressure on businesses and individuals and led to the now infamous images of 4km queues for food parcels handed out by the country’s Government.
'For those that are unemployed or working informally, the impact of the lockdown is immediate,’ said Vera. ‘Not a week, or a month down the line. I knew I had to do something to help.’ She setup Locked Fresh alongside her sister and brother in law ‘almost overnight,’ and registered as an essential services provider.