Survey paints picture of desperation for self-employed

Employers and the Self-employed survey reveals that for the majority of the self-employed the reality is poverty and poor working conditions. (Gallo)

Employers and the Self-employed survey reveals that for the majority of the self-employed the reality is poverty and poor working conditions. (Gallo)

The middle-class dream is of independence, and perhaps, eventually wealth. But for the vast majority of the self-employed in South Africa, especially those in the informal sector, the reality is desperation, poverty and poor working conditions.

Statistics South Africa on Thursday released the results of its Survey of Employers and the Self-employed, conducted every four years since 2001. The survey targets informal businesses by interviewing those who are in business for themselves, but are not registered for value-added tax.

The results show a sector which, despite hopes for its ability to create jobs, remains largely a last resort, for good reasons.

Of the estimated 1.5-million people operating informal businesses at the end of 2013, StatsSA said, more than 85% had a monthly turnover of less than R6 000, and nearly 65% had a monthly net profit of less than R1 500, less than the minimum wage in many sectors.

The amenities available to those operating such business show “the extent to which the entities are survivalist in nature”, StatsSA said. Forty percent of respondents had to leave their place of work to get to a tap, 28% had no electricity on site, and 8% had no toilet facilities of any kind available to them, even though most conducted business from their own homes.

Of those surveyed, 76% said they were running their own business because they had no alternative way of making sufficient money, or had been retrenched. Less than 3% said their businesses were better than previous work or had the likelihood to make them decent incomes, and less than 4% said they liked the business activity they were engaged in.

Broad economic fluctuations
Between 2009, the date of the last survey, and 2013, the number of self-employed at informal businesses increased from 1.1-million to 1.5-million, but it was still far below the 2.3-million StatsSA reported in 2001. That seemed to be directly linked to broad economic fluctuations well out of the control of those who felt them impact.

“In every province, except Gauteng and Northern Cape, and reflecting the effects of the global recession – over the period 2001 to 2013, there was an increase in the proportion of people who stated unemployment as the main reason for being involved in informal businesses,” StatSA said in its analysis of the data.

More than 80% of the business operators said they had no access to credit in any form, and no prospect of a loan from a commercial bank that would allow expansion.

 
Phillip de Wet

Phillip de Wet

Phillip de Wet writes about politics, society, economics, weird stuff, and the areas where all of these collide.Over the past decade and a half, he has also written about telecommunications, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), property development, civil liberties, riot policing, mining, movies, the media, and UFOs, among other topics.But never about serious sport, which he knows nothing about.He studied journalism and has never been anything other than a journalist, except for ill-considered stints as a media trainer and starting up new newspapers, magazines and websites, a suspiciously large percentage of which are no longer in business.PGP fingerprint: CF74 7B0F F037 ACB9 779C 902B 793C 8781 4548 D165 Read more from Phillip de Wet

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus

Client Media Releases

Pragma scores impressive marks for enterprise development
Sanral's intelligent transportation system wins SAICE award
ITWeb Brainstorm joins MTN's Women in ICT Awards
Upskilling in the age of the expert entrepreneur
Complex marketplace demands 'smart strategy'
Orphan Daniel Frank shines with Pragma bursary
Sanral concludes wild week
Preparing e-mail archives for a cloud migration