Legal ServicesWill Entrepreneurs survive in the current South African Economy after the devastation of a Global Pandemic?

May 4, 2023

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South Africa, like the rest of the world, experienced the Global Pandemic for a period of 3 years between 2020-2022 with precautionary measures still be taken in early 2023. As South African’s we will never forget that dreadful and popular news report which informed us of the 38-year-old male who travelled to Italy on the 5th of March. Little did we know that it was this small piece of information that would alter life as we knew it and change how we as a society would function and evolve.

While there are still conversations around the many different ways in which citizens were affected, it cannot be denied that the impact was huge, detrimental and one that had a ripple effect throughout our economy. It did not matter at what level or economical category you fell under as there was no way of escaping the damage that was done and experienced by this pandemic.

Again, life as we knew it completely did a 180 degree turn and adjustments needed to be made for any hope of survival or recovery. The challenge came with very little knowledge on how to survive, including no manual for guidance regarding what the next steps were to push forward and breakthrough.

Portrait smiling african american businessman in medical face mask sit at table for meeting in office with notebook with pen and laptop


Surviving Entrepreneurship during and post pandemic in the South African Economy:  


The unprecedented times as the focus of this article affected entrepreneurs, largely in a negative manner. Small businesses/entrepreneurs, form the backbone of any economy and there’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic added to challenges around the world for many individuals, SME’s and larger corporations, regardless of size or location. The pandemic forced entrepreneurs to become even more creative and resilient during a time where nothing was certain or guaranteed however change was inevitable.

One of the biggest turn of events was for ALL BUSINESSES to go online and create new opportunities for themselves. It soon became evident that going online became a lifeline in order to stay afloat during and post pandemic. Although going online would somehow relieve one issue, there were many issues that remained a problem within our South African economy. These included imports and exports, financial cuts and the ongoing load-shedding

dilemma (where businesses can only operate for a few hours a day due to between 4 – 12 hours of no power being supplied in their areas). The ripple effect of these challenges, resulted in job losses due to financial difficulties that caused entire communities of people who rely on that income to support, not only themselves and their families but support other local businesses and organizations alike.

The current state of the economy accompanied by the residual of the effect of the pandemic comes as a systemic shock with intense implications, both in the short and medium to long- term effects. It continuously triggers economic activities which give raise to issues that had already existed before, such as unemployment, poverty and food insecurity.

Exhausted african american businesswoman wearing protective face mask and holding her head in pain the view is through the glass

It is evident that slow or ineffective economic activities have run the risk of debt distress, social unrest, high inflation and higher unemployment. Amongst this list is young entrepreneurs who have had to combat and find opportunities in an economy with elevated levels of informality and significant pressure on its people and government.

The financial fragility of many small businesses and the depth of the impact of by the current crisis suggests that there is little to no cash on hand to stay afloat, which means that small businesses/entrepreneurs will either have to continually and dramatically cut expenses, take on additional debt, and/or declare bankruptcy.

In the midst of all of these issues it is commendable and should not go unsaid how upcoming entrepreneurs took the challenge head on and became more proactive in an unforgiving economy. Many individuals, due to pressure of corporate South Africa found themselves swimming in the pool of existing entrepreneurs after salary cuts, layoffs, etc. Whether they will be able to thrive long term is still unknown given the cards they are dealt.

In conclusion, with the road that the economy is currently on, it is fair to say that it has taught us that drastic changes and readiness for those changes are what we need to prepare for in an economy where every single individual is a key role player in. Far more governmental support and opportunities are needed for small businesses/entrepreneurs as key role players that are indeed the backbone of the economy. We as South Africa’s have seen the effects of side-lining such significant economic support structures and honestly cannot afford to experience even more loss from this sector. We might not survive it next time…

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