Over the last weeks, there have been rolling blackouts and the impact has been felt across the country. From the private to the public sector, no one has been spared, and SMMEs are watching their already meager profits go down the drain.
Tony Mepa, who owns Atchariser, told Vutivi News that he felt helpless. His business operates a factory in Wynberg, and since load shedding started, he estimated a profit loss of over R500,000. “I produce 10,000 units of Atchariser every week, and this amount to about R350,000 a week,” he said. “When the power goes off, I am losing R20,000 for each hour. The factory has to shut down every time the power goes off, and when that happens, the machinery also gets damaged.”
Mepa slammed the government for not considering the current situation of SMMEs, especially those in the manufacturing sector. “My business is only a year old and is experiencing growth, and load shedding has seriously disturbed my growth.” Justice Ngobeni, who is the founder of the Thuto Pele Learning Centre, said that he has had to cancel 10 sessions since the latest round of power cuts.
“It becomes a problem because when parents pay for tuition and there is load shedding, we have to compensate them, which is a major loss in profits,” he said. National Union of Municipal Chambers of Commerce and Industry president Albert Jeleni told Vutivi News that load shedding continued to be detrimental to economic growth.
“For the same (time) it takes a power station days to restart… small businesses suffer too,” he said. “It takes small business days to recover from the loss they experienced because of the load shedding. “I believe that Eskom doesn’t take into consideration the long-term effect on the economy that load shedding has,” he said.
Small businesses were affected on every level, including administration. “Businesses cannot hold meetings because we hold meetings online and if I, for example, am experiencing load shedding then my meeting cannot go on,” Jeleni explained. “Businesses also cannot do their banking and their day to day running and this affects how their businesses operate severely.”
He suggested that the government gives some form of relief to SMMEs. “For SMMEs that cannot afford insurance or alternative sources of energy, Eskom should consider grants that come in the form of compensation for profits lost or for some kind of power back up,” he said.