In every town in South Africa you will find a group of entrepreneurs who work hard in the local community to earn a living for their families. They own and run the local bakery, or the local Spar or local OK, the Sasol, Caltex or Shell fuel station, the building material supplier, the local vehicle service station and tyre dealer, the local panel beater and the clothes and pet shops.
On another level you have the home maintenance providers, like the electricians, plumbers, builders and garden service providers doing their business to keep the community intact and running well. These entrepreneurs are all self-starters who get up quietly every working day while it is still dark to make sure that customers will get the products and services they need during the day.
These entrepreneurs are the real heroes of the South African economy because they employ and train unskilled and poorly educated people left stranded and desperate by defunct Government structures, systems and policies.
Without prejudice they employ people from all race groups, with the only appraisal criteria being willingness to learn and ability to work hard and smart. Were it not for these entrepreneurs, millions more would have been unemployed, desperate and starving.
These entrepreneurs don’t use sophisticated employment processes to find and select local talent, but look candidates in the eye for a keen spark of willingness to work hard and for the glow of grace and self-respect that signify honesty, reliability and employability.
They use their gut-feel gained through years of sacrifice and hardship to make the right appointment and pursue the mentoring, development and working relationship with every new employee. These relationships can last for decades and when there is a need for change, it will be engaged with fairness, empathy and compassion.
With unemployment amongst the youth in South Africa dangerously high and the poor communities growing furiously, these guardians of employment security and social well-being must be encouraged in all ways possible to thrive and grow, especially in the light of falling employment in traditional high employment sectors.