October 21, 2014 08:43 UTC

As It Is

In South Africa, Small Shops Fight for Survival

John Stheole has owned his spaza shop for more than a ten years in Dube Village, Soweto, South Africa. (Photo Gillian Parker for VOA)
John Stheole has owned his spaza shop for more than a ten years in Dube Village, Soweto, South Africa. (Photo Gillian Parker for VOA)

Related Articles

Audio Fighting South Africa’s Jobless Crisis

Unemployment remains high in South Africa, so many young people are starting their own businesses. But not everyone who opens a business is successful. | As It Is
In South Africa, Small Shops Fight for Survival
In South Africa, Small Shops Fight for Survivali
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

Informal business sectors make up a large part of South Africa’s economy. These stores and services are important for job creation in a country with an unemployment rate of at least 25 percent. But immigrant-owned and foreign retail companies are increasing their share of the South African market. As Mario Ritter tells us, that has hurt local traders who operate informal businesses called “spazas.” 
 
John Stheole has owned his spaza for more than 10 years. It is a small, gray building in Dube village, in the Soweto area of the capital Johannesburg. His small store offers many kinds of goods -- from soap to sweets.
 
Spaza means “just getting by.” The shops are found in non-white communities where larger, more-official stores are not available, or are too costly.
 
There are about 100,000 spazas in South Africa. They employ 290,000 people. But few have paid attention to the part these stores can play in creating jobs.
 
Research shows that what is called the “informal sector” in Africa is very large. Informal workers can be self-employed or wage-earners. Last year, the African Development Bank said the informal sector provides about 55 percent of the economic productivity of African countries south of the Sahara Desert. 
                                     
But business has been slow for Mr. Stheole. He is competing with a nearby store run by a family from Pakistan.
 
“I must say, I am struggling…”
 
South Africa is the only country in the area where refugees and asylum-seekers can move freely, and have the right to work.  South Africa is the only hope of living and working in peace for people who have fled countries like Somalia and Zimbabwe.
 
But reduced profits for native traders, and high unemployment rates, have caused tensions in the country. Immigrants are accused of taking jobs from South Africans. Some also believe immigrants hurt South African shopkeepers by selling goods at lower prices. In September, more than 100 Somali-owned spazas were attacked during four days of unrest in the city of Port Elizabeth.
                             
I’m Mario Ritter.
 
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Lopes from: Brazil
06/09/2014 12:12 PM
I hope that those people learn to live good and peace. Because we only have this option.


by: GERSON OSCAR DE MENEZES from: BRAZIL
06/09/2014 12:04 PM
It was a good matter to understand what it's happens in a Poor country. I like also the Mario Ritter comments.
Thank you .


by: Amin from: Iran-Tehran
06/09/2014 8:16 AM
I think in developing country, government must support small business union and let him to employ young s.
Jobless is so awful...

Learn with The News

  • Indonesian President Joko Widodo gestures to the crowd during a street parade following his inauguration in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibraham)

    Audio Hope, Expectation for New Indonesian Leader

    Joko Widodo is a former businessman and governor of Jakarta. He has no ties to the political establishment. There are huge expectations for the new president in the world’s third-largest democracy. More

  • Bishops attend the beatification ceremony of Pope Paul VI, and a mass for the closing of of a two-week synod on family issues, celebrated by Pope Francis, in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican,  Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014.

    Audio Catholic Bishops Reject Plan to 'Welcome' Gays

    Conservatives had criticized an early document from the two-week-long meeting of bishops in Rome. That document sought to limit criticism of people who have same-sex relationships. The final document approved by the bishops disappoints liberals but pleases conservatives. | As It Is More

  • A man works on a cassava farm in Nigeria.

    Audio Climate Change Could Destroy Farms in Africa

    About 70 percent of those who live in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa are small-scale farmers. They produce about 80 percent of the food needed to feed the people of Africa. And they need a lot of help dealing with the effects of climate change. | As It Is More

  • Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, left, walks with former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the presidential palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, Oct. 20, 2014.

    Audio Indonesians Welcome New President

    Also, Turkey and US help Kurdish forces fight Islamic State, and finally some good news on the fight against Ebola. | In the News More

  • African Cheetahs

    Audio Is the Cheetah Fast Enough to Survive?

    In 1900, about 100,000 cheetahs lived in the world. Today there are only 10,000 of the animals. It appears that the cheetah is vulnerable to attacks by other animals because of its physiology. More

Featured Stories

  • Brain Resource Infographic

    Audio Dealing with Distractions and Overreactions

    More and more children are diagnosed with ADHD, a condition that makes it hard to focus. | HEALTH REPORT More

  • Millions of years of history, which can be found on the ocean floor, are collected and analyzed at the Core Repository in New York.

    Video Scientists Create New Maps of Ocean Floor

    Until recently, scientists had mapped only about 20 percent of the sea floor. But our knowledge of the deep seas is changing because of information from satellites. Scientists have produced a new map that provides a detailed picture of the oceans. More

  • General George McClellan created a strong Union force, but he worried he did not have enough men to defeat the Confederacy.

    Audio McClellan Approaches Richmond ... And Waits

    The North and South clashed in a series of battles called the Seven Days Campaign. The struggle saved the Confederacy but came at a terrible price. But victory came at a terrible price. Twenty thousand Confederate soldiers were killed or wounded. More

  • Solar Storm

    Audio How to Weather a Solar Storm

    The sun’s energy creates light and heat. It also produces charged electrical particles and magnetic fields. The sun can keep the earth nice and warm and helps our crops to grow. But a sudden burst of that solar energy can cause a power outage. More

  • Video Sting, War, Lou Reed for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame officials nominated Green Day, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Kraftwerk, The Marvelettes, N.W.A., Nine Inch Nails, The Spinners and The Smiths. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs