Over the past years, we have seen budding black entrepreneurs breaking glass ceilings in various industries. According to statistics SA, black firms have managed to acquire R283, 1 billion of the R6,5 trillion investment and savings industry from 2015. In the tourism industry, black ownership sat at 20% while management and control was at 50%. This is according to the Parliamentary Monitoring Group.
Though there is representation amongst industries by black owned businesses, statistics indicate that it is within the 4% to 20% range across major industries. For the marginalised industries, there seems to be a larger share by black -owned businesses.
In support of black businesses in South Africa, e-commerce platforms such as Brownsense and initiatives such as #supportblackbusiness have played a significant role in making SMEs profitable
However, is our pursuit to support black businesses based on the level of excellence or mediocrity clothed in the veil of building black communities? In the absence of quality and efficient service delivery, should we still support black businesses?
According to Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), from 2002, South Africa has had one of the highest failure rates of new SMEs. SEDA indicates that the failure rate is 75%, with 5 out of 7 new small businesses failing within the first year
At face value, there are various reasons one can attribute to these failure rates, especially as a consumer. From a historical perspective, systems such as colonisation and lack of access to trade knowledge on a global level from previous generations, together with the wealth gap, the Caucasian community has been able to leverage on the generational knowledge passed on during the years. With social groups such as the boerebillionares (a private Association for Afrikaner generational billionaires), this has made it possible to maintain “trade secrets” within the white communities, especially in industries such as logistics and agriculture. Whereas, as an average black person, a businessman/businesswoman is one that ventures into sub industries such as procurement through e-commerce (online shopping) and “government tenders.”
Our definition of an entrepreneur does not encapsulate someone brining in a fresh idea, but rather, one who improves on an existing one. With no reference point from one’s generational background in most cases, black people spend years pursuing “lucrative businesses” that have no staying power and are therefore not sustainable. For an average black woman, the most idealistic form of business is to venture into is the cosmetic industry through network marketing. The safety net these provide is that they alleviate the daunting and often necessary task of developing and owning an idea. This makes one wonder if there is a sustainable entrepreneurial culture that is being built within the black community, and if the marginalised entrepreneurs in industries that are predominately occupied with Europeans will reach the success we equate with our white counterparts.
When it comes to efficiency, excellence and service delivery, Hello Peter is nothing compared to the dissatisfaction expressed on social media regarding black owned businesses not delivering according to a specific standard.
How much of “supporting black business” can truly go into building a sustainable culture of continuity, excellence and generational wealth. It is well and good to support black owned businesses. However, it should go further than just supporting and more into truly trusting that the business, through its culture of efficiency and adequate service delivery, is probably owned by a black individual. Who we are within the business world should be attributed to excellence.
Furthermore, it is pivotal to build ideas that are our own, patent those ideas, and do the necessary work to be ground breaking industry leaders, who do not just leverage on existing business ideas . There is also a need to diversify into other industries for adequate representation. Let’s create franchises, and fully owned black ideas that we can build on, capacitate future generations to grow these and let our future generations eat the fruit of the legacy we have built.
This unique coffee company’s specialty blends are made from start to finish by coffee originator, roaster and barista Sihle Magubane. He personally selects the beans and blends, roasts and retails them himself.
Sihle’s Brew is South Africa’s first individually black-owned coffee brand, and it is available now.