August 02, 2014 02:25 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

  • A Palestinian woman reacts upon seeing her destroyed house in Beit Hanoun town, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and airstrikes during an Israeli offensive in the northern Gaza Strip, August 1, 2014.

    Audio Is the World a Mess?

    A former top U.S. diplomat blamed the complexity of recent world events on what she called two “game changers.” They are the behavior of Russia’s president and political unrest in the Middle East. | In The News More

  • Travel-Trip-5 Free Things Seattle

    Audio Americans Test Seawater for Fukushima Radiation

    It has been more than three years since the nuclear accident at the Fukushima power station in Japan. Millions of liters of radioactive cooling water from the power center poured into the Pacific Ocean. Experts predicted some of that water would reach the West Coast of North America this year. More

  • Palestinians react following what witnesses said was heavy Israeli shelling, at a hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip August 1, 2014.  A Gaza ceasefire crumbled only hours after it began on Friday, with at least 40 Palestinians killed by Israeli

    Audio Gaza Cease-fire Collapses, Israeli Soldier Believed Captured

    The Israeli military says one of its soldiers has been captured by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. That is where a temporary cease-fire collapsed not long after it began on Friday. More

  • Audio American Ebola Victim to be Brought to US

    An American infected with the Ebola virus in West Africa is returning to the United States. The unnamed aid worker will receive treatment at a hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Doctors have been able to keep some people alive if they get immediate treatment in a hospital. More

  • An African student (C) practices moves as other Shaolin martial arts students look on during the inauguration ceremony of a martial arts training program for African students, at the Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, Henan province, China, Sept. 25, 2013.

    Audio More Africans Seek Education in China

    Tens of thousands of Africans are studying in China. The country provides students with financial assistance for education to develop skills that Africa needs most. And the system makes friends in Africa for the Chinese. More

Featured Stories

  • Audio Artist Turns Plastic Bags Into Art

    Making art with found materials is not a new idea. An artist near Washington, D.C. just had her recycled art on exhibit at the Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center in Maryland. She uses a material found in every American home. Plastic bags. More

  • Many Southerners approved the decision. But northern abolitionists spoke strongly against it.

    Audio Dred Scott Ruling Opens the Whole Country to Slavery

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress had no power to ban slavery in the new territories. The 1857 decision involved a man named Dred Scott. More

  • Medical Marijuana Kids

    Audio Marijuana Helps Children with Epilepsy

    People who support legalization of marijuana say some kinds of the plant offer extraordinary help for human health. For example, one kind of medical marijuana is reported to ease effects of epilepsy, a disease of the nervous system. More

  • Polar Bears Arctic 2006

    Audio From Birds to Bears, Animals Face Danger Around the World

    Hundreds of newly-identified plants and animals in Southeast Asia are in danger. Poachers killed a famous elephants in Kenya. And scientists are working to save polar bears population in Alaska and the Bering Sea. More

  • Audio Ice Cream Sweetens Visits to Maryland Farms

    Maryland’s so-called 'Ice Cream Trail' is 460 kilometers long. The state's agriculture secretary says itl brings valuable attention to the state’s dairy farms | American Mosaic More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs