You don’t have to be a high-roller to invest in small businesses. We’re sharing a few ideas to help you help businesses you love!

The landscape of business ownership in South Africa may be dominated by huge corporations and foreign companies, but the real lifeblood of the economy is the SME (small-medium enterprises) sector. Researchers estimate that about 91% of formalised businesses in South Africa are SMEs and that these businesses employ about 60% of the labour force. (banking.org.za)

Supporting small businesses is great for the economy, but during the recession South Africans are trying to stretch their Rands- so what can you do to support a small business without making a major cash investment? We have a few tips to help you shop, share and support small businesses! Be sure to check out the links at the end of the post to help you find a small business for whatever you need.

So you’re auntie’s daughter’s boyfriend’s cousin has a small business selling artisanal succulents potted in jam tins. You want to support the business, but how many little spiky, squishy dessert plants potted in smooth apricot tins can one person buy? Not a lot, right?! Here’s a few things you can do to help cousin Martina without getting lost in a sea of succulents!

Turn to social media
While you’re scrolling through Facebook on your lunch break and you see a post of cousin Martina holding her champion Crassula ovata you better like, comment and share the data out of it. You don’t have to spam your people or defile your social media wall but liking and commenting on a post or following small businesses on social media makes a huge difference. Why? Because the algorithms of most of these sites will rank them higher and show their content to more people if they have a loyal following.

Spend SOME money buying from small businesses
We said you don’t have to spend tons of money, but spending a little here and there won’t really hurt, we promise. Items may be a little more expensive, but when you spend with small businesses you are really helping them to survive another day. Investing a few rands may force you to abandon one trip to Starbucks, but it’s for the good of the WHOLE freaking country! Small businesses keep the money in the community which is an investment in all South Africans. Go on, be a hero!

You don’t need to buy every item from a small business but making one or two changes will go a long way! Ditch the mall and buy gifts online from local businesses this festive season or order a birthday cake from the auntie down the road instead of heading to a huge supermarket. You’ll be the reason someone can buy their kid a new sport kit!

If you like it, tell people about it!
Now that you put your moola where your mouth is, and you’ve loved whatever you bought, you need to share it with others in real time! Word of mouth is incredibly powerful, even more so than social media and when you tell someone about a great service or product in person, they’re more likely to view your recommendation as credible. If someone is looking for year-end gifts for the office party, suggest cousin Martina’s succulents! People love knowing about something special and if it comes with a recommendation from someone they know, they’ll be more likely to support the business.

If you don’t like it, tell the business about it (privately)
Don’t be a negative Nancy on social media if something went wrong, rather contact the business directly and offer them the opportunity to set things right. Keep in mind that small businesses are run by actual people, not by huge teams and countless departments. People make mistakes and small businesses often HAVE to outsource services such as couriering- so if your package is a day late, or your order is wrong, don’t freak out and go on a Twitter rant. Calmly type a message that your pastor/ mother/ preschool teacher would approve of and let them know of the issue. Most business owners would appreciate the opportunity to fix their mistakes and would make it up to you in some way. If they have a sucky reply or they aren’t interested in fixing the mess, just back away slowly and support their competition!

Advocate for small businesses
If you are ever in the position to choose between small business and corporate giants, do your research and advocate for small businesses. We’re not saying you should go against good sense but remember to consider small businesses for the stuff that needs to get done. Get your friends and family to join you in supporting small businesses and help small businesses to integrate into your community if you can.

If you don’t know where to find a small business to support, we suggest firing up the Google machine and searching for a small business that can give you the services or products you need.

One of our favourite places to find a small, local businesses is Hello Pretty- An online marketplace where you can shop from independent South African creatives. You’ll find many different gorgeous items including accessories, clothing, homeware, décor items, pet products, jewellery, stationery, kids stuff and a whole lot more.

If you have any suggestions of links we need to add, please leave a comment below or tell us on social media (find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest) and while you’re hanging out on social media, say Hi! and follow us for more content like this.

Additional info used in this post available from:
https://www.banking.org.za/what-we-do/smev