Where to from here? Katlego Maphai on rebuilding small business

19th July 2021

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Last night we held a Twitter Spaces event. Hundreds of small business owners came together to have an open dialogue about the last few days, and the impact they have had on South Africa’s small business community. The conversation was authentic and heartfelt. It was also extremely difficult.

To say we live in challenging times is an understatement. With our country already reeling from the pandemic, civil unrest has added even greater barriers to growth that many business owners will struggle to overcome.

Our KwaZulu-Natal community has been hit particularly hard. Thousands of small businesses have been looted and destroyed. Yoco data is showing an 80% drop in turnover across KZN. We haven’t seen these numbers since the level 5 lockdown last year.

The rest of the country has also been affected, as fear of riots has disrupted trading in many areas. The result is a countrywide drop in SME turnover of -25% this week.

So, where to from here?

The conversation on Spaces last night gave some insight. When national leadership is vacant, we all need to step in. Small business is the heartbeat of this economy, yet often is left to fend for itself. We can’t sit around and wait for the sector to be saved. We must build from the bottom up.

We all have a role to play. Yoco consists of a powerful community of small business owners. We have the ability – and the responsibility – to act as a connecting force and a platform for change. We will honour that responsibility. We don’t have all the answers, but Yoco’s entrepreneurial spirit means we’re going to get started and figure it out as we go.

Let this be the start of an open dialogue on how to build from here. To continue last night’s conversation and co-create a way forward. I invite all of you to provide feedback through this link with your thoughts on how best Yoco can help break down barriers for small businesses in South Africa.

It’s hard to see the light through the smoke of destruction, but we have no choice. This country needs a thriving, sustainable small business sector. Its very future is tied to it , and we are here to move it forward with you.

With Love,


Katlego Maphai

Katlego is an entrepreneur who is passionate and dedicated to big initiatives that utilise innovation to remove barriers, tackle inequality and foster prosperity. He is people-positive and likes keeping it human in pursuit of transforming the future. He's a lover of all things technology, music, and the arts.