Living Your Dream – Your Own Business at Last!

Everybody has a dream, a dream to own your own business perhaps? Like Sipho*. Sipho is a South African that grew up with his granny in a corrugated iron shack in Alexandria. Their shack was right next to the affluent city of Sandton. Now let’s learn more about Sipho’s childhood…

Sipho had a difficult childhood. He lost both his parents when he was only ten years old. For that reason his granny took care of him. Many nights Sipho had gone to bed hungry, because his granny’s social grant was too little…

The school that Sipho attended was not far from their shack. However, it was overcrowded and underfunded. He had to attend classes with about 50 learners in rooms fitted for only 30 pupils.  Also, there were not enough textbooks and the teachers were many times not there to teach them.

In spite of Sipho’s dire situation, he was not blind to the wealth and extravagant lifestyles of his neighbours on the other side of the fence. He was dreaming to live and prosper on the other side of the fence…

Sipho is dreaming of having his own business

We’ve heard many times that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the most important sector in most economies. In fact, SMEs are the principle providers of jobs in developed economies. Yet, in developing economies, like South Africa’s, the informal business sector contributes significantly to the GDP. According to South African Market Insights, the size of the informal economy is estimated between 7% and 13%.

Even more, South Africa’s informal sector is supporting 27% of all working people and it provides goods and services to millions of people on a daily basis, according to Natalie Greve in FIN24. In fact, Stats SA has found that almost 70% of people who start an informal business do so because they are unemployed and have no alternative source of income.

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Getting into the formal business sector

Sipho will probably not enjoy the glitter and riches of the Sandton community by selling loose cigarettes, sweets and small packets of corn chips on busy street corners. He needs to enter the formal business sector which will give him access to venture capital and, if he is lucky, government support.

For Sipho, however, it won’t be easy to enter the formal business sector. Although there may be lots of opportunities in the sector, the costs of starting a business are high. And then there are things like rates and taxes, government’s ‘red tape’; labour issues, political uncertainty and fierce competition.

Sipho will need the all the help he can get, and lots of good fortune to start his own business and cross the fence to Sandton…


There are many people like Sipho in South Africa. They are poor, hungry and desperate. Maybe the answer for them is to join the digital economy. Government and private sector can facilitate access by means of free Wi-Fi at internet cafes near the homes. It is a place where they can get information about ‘starting a business’ and also to join a group on the social networks.

Read also: Home-based business – Important Startup Strategies

Main image: Pixnio