The rise and spending power of black consumers is boosting South Africa’s retail sector, but there are few black-owned retailers able to take advantage of this trend. One exception is Tommy Makhatho, CEO of Bibi Cash and Carry, whose business has grown tremendously, with six stores in the Free State and one in Gauteng

About Tommy Makhatho

Founder & MD BiBi Cash & Carry

Born and raised in Soweto, Tommy Makhatho left school in 1976 at the end of standard nine and worked as a waiter at a restaurant in Joburg’s swanky Carlton Hotel.

One of his customers was a flashy hairdresser who always wore a cowboy hat and drove a top-of-the-range left-hand-drive limousine. “He liked me because I was curious about his business and eager to learn,”says Makhatho, recalling how the man gave him his first break and employed him as a part-time trainee shampooist in his salon. Makhatho went on to qualify as a professional hairdresser. In 1982, with R7 000 in the bank, he decided to leave Blackwave and go it alone in Soweto, but failed to build a clientele and was soon forced to ask for his job back. “I had been over-ambitious and made a mistake of not planning properly, ”says Makhatho. A year later he was on the road, distributing hair-care products and bed linen in townships in the Free State, Northern Cape and Lesotho. “I travelled thousands of kilometers every week and the business was doing well. I quit my job again and opened a salon in Qwaqwa.”

In four years he opened six more salons. But rapid growth made it difficult to control the operation and the sales people. “I couldn’t manage the business from a distance, so I had to close the branches and go back to the original salon. I had, however, accumulated R300 000 in two years. “The experience taught him that distributing hair-care products from a main centre would be easier to control and manage. The Jabula Cosmetic Centre in Qwaqwa opened in May 1991 and four others followed. There were over 3 000 different stock lines, which meant the business needed more storage space and more sophisticated planning, management and control systems.

BiBi Cash & Carry

Through the years

Qwaqwa Warehouse
Growing into retail
The First Warehouse
bibi distribution

With Jabula Cosmetics growing rapidly into 5 branches, a warehouse was opened in Qwaqwa as a solution to the entity's storage challenges and to support its control systems.

BiBi Supermarket is born
Opening the 1st store
BiBi Cash & Carry Family Supermarket

In 1998, Makhatho entered the supermarket sector and opened the first Bibi Cash and Carry Family Supermarket in QwaQwa. All company profits were ploughed back into the business to fund expansion

BiBi Cash and Carry Setsing
Opening the 2nd store
BiBi Cash & Carry Setsing opens its doors

A second store was opened at the Setsing Shopping Centre, Qwaqwa's main CBD. Catapulting the brand into the hearts and minds of the eastern Free State's populous town.

BiBi Cash and Carry Naledi Mall
Opening the 3rd store
BiBi Cash & Carry open Naledi Mall branch


A third store was opened at Phuthaditjhaba's Naledi Mall.

BiBi Wholesale
BiBi opens its wholesale doors
bibi stores

BiBi Wholesale was opened to service small to medium enterprises.

Iketsetseng Stokvel

The stokvel industry is worth about R6 billion, so it makes sense to tap into it. Our members bank their money with us, we give them vouchers and they provide us with a list of their needs.

BiBi Quick Stop
BiBi helps empower the township economy

With an idea to create entrepreneurs, potential employees were identified to operate the Bibi Quick Stop container stores. Those who showed potential were given training in business management, retail operation, retail finances and customer service. The project currently consists of 6 container stores in across Qwaqwa.

Sanlam Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year
SA's Entrepreneur of the Year

Delighted at his win, Makhatho said; “I’m honored to be honored as the overall winner. We had the right recipe, being chosen is not about what you say, it’s about what you do right. I’d like to thank my team. I am delighted to have my son working with me. There is another 25 years ahead of us. My dream is to become one of the major players in the FMCG market.”

BiBi Cash and Carry Harrismith
Bibi Harrismith
BiBi opens first store Gauteng
Bibi Cash and Carry Gauteng
wholesale specials
Reitz, Free State
Bibi Cash and Carry opens in Reitz
Bibi Wholesale