Booming informal sector is a boon in a jobs bloodbath

Business

Booming informal sector is a boon in a jobs bloodbath

Big firms are no longer the biggest employers, but the untapped potential of the informal sector is vast, if unleashed

Khadija Magardie

Ask anyone who has lived in Johannesburg for at least a decade and is adventurous enough to venture into the CBD and they will tell you just how much the commercial activity landscape in the city has changed.

Gone are the big department chains and hire-purchase furniture stores. In their place are small supermarkets, “ethnic” restaurants, blanket and linen wholesalers, stores selling cheap fashion brands, and micro-lending outlets.

There are the persistent hair ladies opposite the high court on Pritchard Street who stand with painted boards to entice pedestrians to try out the latest braiding styles. There are the matrons stacking up heaps of secondhand clothes for sale along the pavements opposite Library Gardens. There are the food caravans of Braamfontein, and there is the legendary shisa nyama at kwaMai Mai that is so busy you have to queue for 30 minutes on a good day...

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