South Africa is often described as having one foot in the first world and the other in the third world. What this means is to some South Africa can feel like a developed country, to others a third world (or to be politically correct “developing country”). What separates these two qualities of living in South Africa is one thing: money.
If you are poor in South Africa it is just another African country, public healthcare, security (policing), education and almost any another public service is in shambles. In the Western Cape (considered by many to be South Africa’s best run province) it currently takes 8 months to get an appointment to see an ENT (ear, nose, tongue) specialist. Don’t believe me? Phone Tygerberg hospital and ask – that is if you are even able to get through. To see a private ENT specialist you can get an appointment the same day!
As someone who lives in Cape Town, I am often told by others who have moved here how much worse the other provinces are managed, this I find extremely disturbing as I consider the provincial government to be far below the standards of what I consider to be a well managed province. I cannot fathom how other people are managing in other provinces.
So what is the point I am trying to make on a small business platform? The point is that if you are unemployed or earning minimum wage you are going to live a third world existence in South Africa – even in the province considered being best run. You need to use this as a motivating factor to drive your success, if not for yourself, for your family. If you don’t have a family yet imagine having to take your child to a government hospital, imagine waiting on the government to provide you with housing while you live in a shack, imagine waiting hours on the police to arrive when you spot someone inside your property, imagine putting your child’s future in jeopardy in an overcrowded public school classroom where your child has to risk their lives to get to and from every day.
Now imagine what it would be to have money, to live in safe suburbs (fair enough nowhere is safe in South Africa but some places are safer than others), imagine a private hospitals ambulance driving like a tow truck driver to get to you to save your life, imagine being able to see a specialist within hours and not months, imagine pushing a button and having a armed response officer on your doorstep within minutes and not hours or days like the South African Police Service. Imagine your child in a school, where he or she gets individual attention, extramural activities to nurture his or her talents. In other countries that comes standard, in South Africa only success can buy you that.
Let me be blunt with you, in South Africa if you are poor then you are F-U-C-K-E-D, no political party cares about you and is going to help you. You need to help yourself and start as soon as possible. Because let me tell you something it is only going to get WORSE. Cyril Ramaphosa’s plan to open South Africa’s borders to the rest of Africa is only going to achieve one thing: see millions of poor people stream into South Africa looking for opportunity while offering very little if anything in return, which will only put more pressure on a public system that cannot even cater to its own citizens, that eight month appointment date to see a specialist will become two years. If you are poor, unemployed, earning minimum wage, what do you have to lose? Start with a sideline if you have to.
Start by gathering information on business ideas and opportunities, and then formulate a business plan to implement your ideas, and then take your business, its products and service to market. And make a success of yourself.
Image credit: World Bank