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Using your money for good: How to Intentionally Support Small Businesses

Supporting the female economy through intentional spending

Supporting the female economy through intentional spending

In March 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa  announced a 21 day hard lockdown in an aim to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Most businesses were classified as non-essential and were required to temporarily close. This coupled with the containment practices that mandated people to stay at home caused huge disruptions to business activities and many small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) suffered as a result. 

While some were able to adapt and move their operations online, by December 2020, a report published by FinFind and the Department of Small Business Development detailed how existing debt, lack of cash reserves, outdated financials, no access to relief funding, and an inability to operate during the lockdown, forced the closure of 42.7% of SMMEs across South Africa.

SMMEs are a critical component of our economy- they create employment, facilitate growth and innovation in our communities and support local economies, communities and neighbourhoods. 

Women-owned and women-led businesses in particular have been shown to be crucial for economic growth as they tend to be more profitable, create more jobs and provide more support for local communities than businesses run by men. 

Intentionally supporting local small businesses

While the overall success of small businesses mostly rely on institutional programmes and policies to thrive, we too can lend our individual support to help local small businesses to achieve the sustainability and profitability they need to become economic multipliers in our communities.  

Nwabisa Mayema, Strategic Partnerships Director at the Branson Centre for Entrepreneurship, had this to say about how she intentionally supports local small businesses:

  1. Understand the story

Why does the business exist and what drives the owner and their team? Purpose! For me, once I understand a business' purpose, I am clear about how my money goes into achieving it. It becomes bigger than just my money going into the till but I feel like I am part of something. This also means I am more inclined to encourage others to buy from that business and when it makes sense, [I’m] more likely to connect that business owner to others and to opportunities (thereby achieving my purpose - connection).

  1. Aligning business values to what is truly important to me 

I am a woman entrepreneur (for entrepreneurs). I know and understand what it means to be a woman running a business (in an attempt to create livelihoods, wealth and legacy). So my values focus on how we can enable women in their businesses. As far as is possible, I buy from women-owned businesses. Particularly women-owned businesses that enable other women through their products/goods and through the people in their businesses. 

  1. Be loud and proud

I wish I could spend all of my money in women-owned businesses but I can't do that. So I am very loud about where I get my things from; I'm quick to share links and I'll even take people into various shops to present them to business owners as my friends. This is a sneaky way of seeing my buying power go further because my friends start buying from the businesses that I talk about. 

  1. Be difficult (sometimes) 

Because I believe in the businesses that I support with my money; I offer feedback all the time. Compliments where they are due and I challenge things when they don't feel great for me as a customer.

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