It is rather unfortunate that whenever government and corporates come together to discuss and pre-plan strategies in relation to improving the economy, they seem to ignore the mammoth in the room, i.e. The informal business sector, which begs three important questions:

(1) What constitutes the sector?

(2) What role does it perform within the context of South African society?

(3) Who/what protects and advances the interests of its millions of adherents’?

  • Firstly, the informal economy of South Africa is inextricably linked to that of the formal business economy. At a conservative estimation, 6.2million persons find their sustenance both as employers and employees within the informal economy which if dissected, reveals many business sectors and sub-sectors. From street and market traders to home-based industries. From waste-pickers to horse and cart. From musicians and performers to fisherfolk. From backyard mechanics to building construction, the informal economy is as vast as it is varied.
  • Its biggest asset is undoubtedly its unique space wherein the entrepreneurial spirit is located and nurtured for the benefit of the unemployed, their families, workers. It is a critical contributor to the GDP and plays a vital role in poverty alleviation and job creation. Indeed, were it not for these micro businesspersons who daily display a remarkable resilience in the face of tremendous challenges, our unemployment figures might be a whole lot higher.
  • Given the economic clout this sector wields, and the potential for improvement, growth, and capacity building, each sub-sector within the informal economy had to be identified. Thereafter, the concerns, challenges, and needs of each established and documented. The Informal Economy Development forum [IEDF] is the organization responsible for those tasks.

We have noted with concern the fractious nature of the informal economy and have put in place a strategy and programs which together aim to unite and galvanize it into a cohesive and well managed segment of our economy.

Our “One Informal Economy, One Voice” launch and rollout….