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Opportunity in this political chaos

30 July 2013, 09:45
South Africa is made up of so many true entrepreneurs, yet sadly, so few enter the formal economy. Why is this and what does it mean? Politics in South Africa (and anywhere else in the world), should be like a good referee in sports, doing their job enforcing rules and not be the centre of attention. Sadly the tendencies of our political biases are so skewed through a militant mindset on issues that they take centre stage, at the cost of the real game, being servants of our society.

As with most things, some see problems where others see opportunities amidst the chaos and diversions created by the political elite. South Africa is populated with a vast majority of citizens that effectively employ themselves in the formal, and more importantly informal sectors of our economy which leads to massive opportunities for those who seek it. Consider the opportunity for an organized structure to bring those informal sector entrepreneurs into the formal sector and empowering them to build effective businesses. Too often we see claims made to empowerment by corporate industry which, in reality, is really self-enrichment off the backs of the informal sector.

Clear examples of this are evident in most sectors, however, I'll point to the worst offenders. Large chain-store retailers laying claim to assisting informal merchants are frankly false, self-enrichment schemes, marketing and selling product to these informal entrepreneurs, with no strings attached. Picture a landscape where these very same mass retailers had an inclusive approach by "bringing them on-board" in a formalized manner, almost on a royalties based system, or mini-franchise, whereby these merchandisers stalls were "sub-outlets" of the main entity of chain-store. this approach would not only empower these entrepreneurs, but ensure a sustainable business model through training and up-skilling for the betterment of both parties.The fact is, these "mass discounters" generate upwards of 40% of their turnover from these informal traders, who buy their products at the same prices we, as consumers buy from our local supermarket, mark them up for profit, and sell to a sector that can ill-afford the premium they must pay, yet cannot afford the cost of traveling to a formal supermarket.

So many excuses, so little done. The less excuses you make, the more success you'll achieve. All we hear in the media these days is the negative…and rightly so as there is so much ammunition. That said though, the effort being put by certain media houses into ensuring specific political viewpoints are publicized, should rather be directed to CREATING a media landscape that informs and encourages true empowerment, not transfer of wealth or political endorsements.

My single biggest wish is in our "top performing public sector" SARS. You may be Number 1 in the world on PAYE Tax Collection (Kudos for that achievement), but you REALLY need to coordinate your efforts with the DTI to bring the Tax Code inline with the need for creating a fertile environment for the informal sector to enter the formal fray, and enable existing small business to flourish. That is not to say that the DTI has done much, if anything, to improve conditions, however, SARS taking the lead may stimulate the reduction of administration and red tape that hinders small business.

When all is said and done, those that make the least excuses and LEVERAGE the power of our entrepreneurial citizenry will realize the opportunities in this country.
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