Pandemic unmasked enterprising spirit in SA

The people depicted in this front page demonstrate the kind of appetite for dynamic trading that exists in our communities, the writer says.
The people depicted in this front page demonstrate the kind of appetite for dynamic trading that exists in our communities, the writer says.
Image: Sowetan

Our front page yesterday reflected pictures of ordinary South Africans wearing masks or scarfs in line with the country's new public safety regulations meant to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

We called it "Mzekezeke nation".

More delightful was the story behind the depiction.

It is one that demonstrates the kind of entrepreneurial spirit which ought to be cultivated even more if our country is to turn this floundering economy around beyond the pandemic and into the future.

Scores of small businesses in townships across the country have jumped at the opportunity to meet the rising public demand for face masks after President Cyril Ramaphosa urged people leaving their homes to wear masks to minimise the spread of the virus.

Some make up to 1,000 items a day.

At public places far and wide mask stands have sprung up.

Behind them are men and women who have seized the opportunity presented by our new social reality.

It is common cause that the lockdown has caused great devastation to our already fragile GDP.

Many analysts suggest that it has pushed us over a steep edge from which it will be an extraordinarily difficult task to come back.

However, what we know is that beyond the dismal economic data are people, families who must be given the opportunity to build from the ashes and survive.

Granted the mask makers present a relatively small segment of our township economy.

However, they demonstrate the kind of appetite for dynamic trading that exists in our communities.

Like any developing country, small businesses are the bedrock of our economies, both formal and informal.

They are in tune with the needs and pace of the communities they operate in.

Their recovery, therefore, is vital to sustainability and growth of these economies.

What many of them seek is a hand up and not a hand out as many who do not understand this sector often suggest.

This is why they must be assisted to innovate, adapt and respond to the prevailing social and trading conditions in which they often find themselves.

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