According to Debbie Goodman-Bhyat, MD of Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters, financing difficulties have proved too cumbersome for many business owners.
"The after-shocks of the recession are still very much being felt within the BEE (black economic empowerment) investment space," said Goodman-Bhyat.
"It is much more difficult to access capital and funding than it was a few years ago and as a result, many BEE deals are trapped in debt as the flow of investment returns needed to pay off their loan diminishes."
Sandra Burmeister, CEO of Landelahni Recruitment Group, which specialises in the recruitment of black professionals, said it seems to be especially small business owners which are the most affected, rather than the bigger BEE consortiums.
"We are certainly seeing an increase in entrepreneurs wanting to re-enter the corporate sector or the formal job market. However, this is not only relevant to black professionals but stretches across gender, race and profession," said Burmeister.
She said small businesses which operate in professional services industries, including human resources, accounting and consulting, are taking the most strain.
That's because in a boom economy, small businesses flourish as there is access to funds from banks to support cashflow, if required. But in a downturn, big companies slow their payment cycles and spend less on professional services.
"We do see many black professionals in the 'professional of services industry' wanting to re-enter the corporate market," said Burmeister.
Burmeister said in the early days of BEE many people set up investment consortiums, but stayed in their jobs until there were substantial investments and some kind of dividend flow or income to support them. However, others left the corporate sector only to realise investments were long-term.
Goodman-Bhyat also said in some cases black professionals have done well out of earlier deals, but recognise that future deal flow may be slow. These individuals have made some money – but not enough to retire – and now they're happy to consider more 'secure' corporate positions, where qualified black professionals are in high demand.
"This is great news for SA corporates, some of whom are still battling to secure highly qualified black talent, who come at a premium and are easily poached," she said.