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Hurdles to trade? South Africa’s immigration policy and informal sector cross-border traders in the SADC

5. Commitment to entrepreneurship

The traders interviewed in these studies showed a strong commitment to cross-border trading and entrepreneurship, despite the difficulties and hardships of regular travel and the business itself. Most traders interviewed saw themselves as entrepreneurs and were committed to their businesses. Less than 50% said they were interested in finding formal sector employment and only 5% of those who said they wanted to work in formal sector jobs were actually looking for work.

Most of the traders involved in these studies already had small (mostly informal sector) businesses where they sold their goods and had been involved in the informal sector prior to starting cross-border trading. Importantly, significant numbers of people interviewed were actively involved in developing small businesses in their home countries by investing the profits from their cross-border trade. It seems their ambitions were to stop cross-border trading so that they could live a more settled, but still entrepreneurial and profitable lifestyle. Some said that they would then employ someone to continue their cross-border trading activities. Businesses which traders had established, or were in the process of setting up included: retail shops (informal and formal), beauty and hair salons, an ice-cream making business, a construction company, a chicken farm, a bottle store, a guesthouse and a restaurant.

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