World

South Africans Optimistic About Local Entrepreneurship

by Bob Tortora and Ian T. Brown

More respondents say it’s easier to start and protect a business

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Although dealing with an economic recession for the first time in 17 years, South Africans continue to be optimistic about entrepreneurship. Eight in 10 (80%) respondents in March-April 2009 said that their city or area is a good place for entrepreneurs forming a new business -- staying at the high level Gallup recorded in 2007 before the economic collapse. This comes about as the country's new president, Jacob Zuma, seeks to create half a million new job opportunities by year's end.

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In addition to the more than 250,000 jobs that have been lost so far during the second quarter of this year, South Africa faces the challenge of preparing to host the 2010 World Cup. The Zuma government, facing serious pressure from South Africans to meet its job creation promises, has pledged to directly create numerous short-term construction jobs aimed at improving the nation's infrastructure for the soccer tournament. Pressure on the Zuma government became even more visible in late July, when low-income South Africans protested over the government's failure to deliver basic public services.

Maintaining a business-friendly climate for entrepreneurs is helpful to the government's job-creation efforts. South Africans' opinions about the ease of starting a business suggest progress in this area over the past few years. The proportion of respondents who say the government makes paperwork and permits easy enough for anyone who wants to start a business nearly doubled between 2006 and 2009, from 22% to 51%.

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Moreover, 46% said in 2009 they trust their assets and property to be safe at all times, up from 38% in 2008 and 39% in 2006. And 53% said in 2009 they trust the government to allow their business to make a lot of money, up from 39% in 2006 (though down slightly from 59% in 2008). In both cases, 2009 percentages are similar to those in 2007, a year before the onset of the global economic slowdown.

While South Africa still has one of the world's largest wealth gaps, positive attitudes about the entrepreneurial climate are no more evident among wealthier South Africans than middle income or poorer ones.

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The findings are positive in that entrepreneurship and new business development from all socioeconomic levels could help Zuma to realize his promise of 500,000 new jobs by year's end (and his promise of 4 million new jobs by 2014). Job creation may bring hope to an economic situation in which 62% of respondents said it was a bad time to find a job, which is up from 53% in 2008.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact worldpollpartners@gallup.com or call 202.715.3030.

Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in March-April 2009 in South Africa. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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