It comes as no surprise that South Africa’s unstable electricity supply is affecting the economy and one of the biggest casualties are Small Business Enterprises (SMEs).

When electricity is offline the economy loses millions of rands per hour. The South African Reserve Bank projects the country’s economy to grow by only 1,2% this year. If loadshedding persists, this growth projection will decrease further. In a country like South Africa with an abnormally high unemployment rate, boosting entrepreneurship is vital. The economy depends on small businesses to thrive and create jobs.

With the recent spate of loadshedding, KAE News recently interviewed the owner of Legodi’s Place and Legodi’s Superstore in Ebony Park Extension 4, William ‘Willie’ Legodi to find out how it affects him and his business.

Legodi who is popularly known as Willie started his store at the young age of 18 in 1999. Kwa Willie or Ko Willie as the place is referred to started at a Cell C container long before Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Ethiopians even thought about setting up shop in South Africa. While many tuck shops owned by locals have since ceased to exist, Legodi’s Place is still standing and has grown in leaps and bounds.

In addition to the ‘Superstore’, the original property also now boasts a pub. Legodi directly employs 11 permanent and 7 temporary staff. The place uses television sets, fridges, cash register and speed point machines that use electricity. Loadshedding negatively impacts on revenue. Legodi’s Superstore also sells airtime and electricity which is not possible when it’s loadshedding. The television sets which patrons use to watch football games at Legodi’s Place also use electricity.

These are some challenges which caused Bra Willie to invest in an expensive generator. Even though, he now has a generator. Business is still affected because out of a total of 10 fridges, during loadshedding only 5 operate. In addition, a generator requires diesel to operate which itself is expensive. Willie buys 25 liters of diesel at a time.

Legodi’s Place operates from 09:00 to 01:00 on Weekends and it is clearly evident that Eskom’s implemented loadshedding affects his businesses. A typical loadshedding schedule lasts for 4 hours and 30 minutes. Asked about what he would change with the current electricity crisis, Legodi said “government must stop with politicking and deal with the Eskom crisis directly. “

“It doesn’t matter which political party is in charge. Service delivery is important. It’s important to know what’s happening on the ground and do what’s right for the community”.

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