What started out as a little stall in the Rosebank Sunday Market in early 2015, has now flourished into an organisation that assists individuals and businesses on various levels.
Nabihah and Ziyaad Plaatjes co-founders, the sole funders, and the only staff who run the whole operation of iloveza.com, started the online platform to assist South Africans in realising their dreams.
Both of them, going through some very traumatic experiences in their life while living in South Africa, but still finding the good in the people and the country and their love for their place of birth.
They chose the name iloveza.com because:
The 'i' represents a sense of belonging
The 'love' represents a deep emotion
The 'za' being the international abbreviation of South Africa
The '.com' connecting that love and sense of belonging of and for South Africa to the rest of the World
When the site was originally launched on 25 June 2015, under the name Sjok & Shizi, the site was primarily an online store.
The idea of the online store was to give local traders a chance to showcase their products to the world.
There are many talented individuals that either do not have the time nor the money or sometimes even the tech know-how to have their own online store. Nabihah and Ziyaad decided that (even though they have limited resources themselves) they would give these individuals the platform to advertise their products.
They do not charge for advertising, no monthly fees, no setup costs, no fixed percentages, and iloveza.com even package and deliver the products around the world on behalf of the traders. The model is easy and simple and makes sure that the trader is never out of pocket, but tries to provide a little something to cover the costs that Nabihah and Ziyaad incur while running this operation.
There is FREE delivery on any product throughout South Africa as well as highly competitive global shipping rates.
The online store which is also mobile friendly is just one avenue where the couple are trying to uplift South Africans.
Once the name changed to iloveza.com on 21 February 2016, there were major changes in what the organisation had to offer.
Teaming up with Travelstart and Booking.com to provide a platform for users to book flights, accommodation, and car rentals, at discounted prices, was the first step.
Music is a big part of the South African culture, and being a small player, labels were not ready to advertise their CDs through the online store, so iloveza.com teamed up with iTunes to promote the latest local albums while stilll giving consumers the chance to purchase their favorite music through iloveza.com's site.
The website and online store are not the only platforms where iloveza.com promote local talent, but also through their weekly Newsletter and social media accounts; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and recently YouTube.
Lifestyle and social media are like best friends whether it's fashion, food, or travel. Behind the lifestyle post are bloggers and vloggers. Many of them work hard at their blog/vlog but never get the breakthrough that they need to gain the exposure that they deserve. iloveza.com uses their various platforms to promote these talented creatives to assist them in achieving their goals.
Events form a big part of the lifestyle part of the website, and this is aided by the collaborations that iloveza.com have with various PR companies. The spin-offs of the events are competitions that are usually held by iloveza.com to increase awareness of these events or brands/ products associated with the event but also to give their subscribers who might not ordinarily go to the event or can't afford to go, to have the chance to attend these events or win products from the event.
Reviews are also done of the events if Nabihah or Ziyaad attend them and they also find time to let their followers/readers know about the latest products/ eating places as well as fit in a few travel reviews.
For those who are not looking to sell products or don't have an event or a competition that they want to advertise and probably just run a service-based business then the business directory listing is iloveza.com's solution to promoting their company. The online business card can be shared on various social media platforms and gives detailed information about the business including full contact details, up-to-date trading hours and location which is all smartphone friendly, and also allows customers to add reviews of the business.
Local products and businesses are the main focus but iloveza.com promotes anything that they feel will make a difference in people's lives.
Being parents to a toddler (who is probably the third member of iloveza.com as he attends most of the events with them), it was only natural that either Nabihah or Ziyaad would share their experience of parenting, which Ziyaad does on occasion (when he finds time).
Authentic South African recipes are also shared on the website and there is always new information that the couple try to add for visitors to the country like a list of Kosher restaurants in South Africa and the various religious holidays observed in the country.
Other parts of the site which haven't taken off as quickly as they would have hoped but are still active are the:
Baby Exchange where users can sell, rent out, or donate their pre-used baby products.
Career Portal that allows users to upload their CV and businesses to browse the CVs for potential candidates.
Financial Advice Portal that allows users to request assistance of a qualified Wealth Manager.
At the moment it is just Nabihah and Ziyaad who handle the operation of the organistaion, everything from the daily quote that is sent out, to interacting with each and every one of their social media followers and online store customers. They would love to give more people employment as there is a lot of work that is done on a daily basis and can still be done, but since there is no funds available to do so (as most of the work is done for little or no pay currently) the only way they can assist others to make some extra cash is by offering individuals commission for referring business to them. It's a start and they hope that through this initiative and the rest of what is being done at iloveza.com they can assist to alleviate the current high unemployment rate in South Africa (which they once formed part of).
If you would like to get involved or collaborate with Nabihah and Ziyaad at iloveza.com, e-mail them on firstname.lastname@example.org, connect with them on social media @ilovezacom, or call them on +27 71 141 5344