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Load shedding fears for small business

Dec 11 2014 06:13

Cape Town – Eskom’s forecast of planned load shedding in 2015 does not bode well for growth in the small and medium enterprise sector (SME), according to Business Partners Limited.

While SME owners were cautiously optimistic that the current economic environment was conducive for business growth in 2015, factors such as the country’s constrained power supply were impacting confidence levels, according to Gerrie van Biljon, an executive director at Business Partners Limited.

He was speaking on the third quarter 2014 Business Partners Limited SME Index (BPLSI) results.

The BPLSI, which measures attitudes and confidence levels amongst SMEs in South Africa, revealed average confidence levels of 55% that the economy will be conducive for business growth in the next 12 months, which is a decrease of 3% when compared to the second quarter of 2014.

Load shedding impact on the SME sector

“The introduction of national load shedding by Eskom from mid June 2014 has had a significant impact on the SME sector, resulting in decreased productivity and financial losses,” said van Biljon.  

“The power crisis has been referred to as one of the most critical structural impediments to economic growth in the country, and continues to have far reaching effects on SMEs across all industries.”
He says that in addition to the power crisis, the July cut to South Africa’s 2014 GDP growth forecast by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which was reduced from an initial 2.7% to 1.3%,  plus the two instances of raised interest rates by South African Reserve Bank, albeit marginal, have also taken its toll on SME owners’ confidence levels.

Fin24's Matthew le Cordeur speaks to Van Biljon about load shedding, the index and the year ahead:

View the presentation:

Positive sentiment for growth

On a more positive note, the quarterly index revealed that SME express average confidence levels of 75% that their business will grow in the next 12 months, a year-on-year increase of 2% and on the same level as the second quarter of 2014. Van Biljon says that it is a positive indication for 2015 that SMEs remain confident in their own businesses and staff, despite the negative sentiment that is widespread in many industries. 

SMEs' average confidence levels that the ease of access to business finance will improve in the next 12 months remained relatively unchanged at 51% when compared to the previous quarter, which recorded average confidence levels of 52%.

When comparing year-on-year however, the survey notes a steady increase since 2012, which recorded an average confidence level of 43% in the third quarter, while 2013 recorded 49%.

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eskom  |  load shedding  |  energy crisis  |  sme  |  entrepreneur


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