Load shedding fails small businesses as fashion designers cannot go into production

SA fashion designers cannot go into production due to load shedding.

SA fashion designers cannot go into production due to load shedding.

Published Jan 18, 2023


Load shedding is one of the worst things to happen in this country. I used to think two hours of electricity was insane until Eskom changed the gears and moved us to stage 6, which is more than 10 hours of load shedding a day.

Load shedding feels like abuse, it’s taking away so much from us. We can’t even cook except preparing for the next power cut in a rush.

It’s crippling the economy because if big businesses like KFC and Clicks aren’t able to keep up, what about the small businesses?

The government doesn’t provide people with jobs, and load shedding takes away the little they’re trying to build.

Fashion designer Thula Sindi said he had to give his staff a day off on Monday, January 15, because what was the point of them coming to work when they can’t get anything done?

“Gave staff day off today, there is no point. Plus, we pushed some work on Saturday any way. Going halvies on an inverter with someone in my building, hopefully, it will give us 2-3 hours of power if the salesman is to be believed.”

Another designer Samkelisiwe Mhlongo-Setshedi, of St Reign, said load shedding halts her production, which gives her brand a bad reputation.

“As a small business, load shedding has made it harder for us to run the business efficiently. St Reign operates on a made-on-order basis. If I take on an order, I need to give a customer an estimate of when they will receive their bag. If I can't finish on time, it delays other orders too.

“Sometimes it means losing out on another order. When you're behind and can't deliver on time because of load shedding, it affects your reputation as a brand. We are a small-owned business, and we are still trying to win new customers, many are giving us a try for the first time. Your reputation can make or break the business, especially as we are visible on social media.”

She adds that as she’s embarking on retail, load shedding is setting her back because she won’t be able to meet deadlines in terms of supplying retail stores. After all, when production is delayed because of load shedding, everything falls apart.

“Production is mostly by hand, but there's a machinery aspect when I produce and when there's load shedding, I can’t use those machines. I also can't cut because cutting requires a well-lit space to work. With hours of work missed, I can't make most of the hourly labour rate (so I don’t get paid myself), and I lose out on some sales.”

Load shedding has been going on for so long, but it got worse in 2021. It is still unclear what the plan is because although president Cyril Ramaphosa cancelled his Davos trip, he still doesn’t have a solution to fix the country.

Meanwhile, the Department of Small Business Development is encouraging small business owners to increase their production so that people can support them. But how is it possible when many small business are collapsing due to load shedding?