Dr Tshepo Motsepe
Impact Through Partnership Webinar
22 October 2020
Our economy was already challenged before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is now even more severely so. Our growth, revenue and employment prospects are bleak. As a result, unemployment, poverty and inequality are likely to increase. This is a scenario South Africa can ill-afford and every effort must be made to mitigate it. Collaboration through partnership is our rallying cry, because we are in this together and we need one another.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seriously affected education and small businesses. These are the focal areas of the work of Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation.
Schools, universities and colleges have had to close, and many young people have missed significant parts of their academic year. As a result, the inequalities in society were laid bare as many did not have the means to continue learning due to lack of access to resources for online learning.
We know that this has also made the situation of our youth who are not in education, employment or training worse. We expect the long-term impact on the country’s capability to improve economic participation will be more challenging.
As for businesses, many have lost revenue. They have had to retrench staff and/or close down. Millions have lost their jobs. Small businesses have been the worst affected. Given the importance of small businesses to employment, this is a huge blow to economic participation, with major social consequences.
In this context, we once again see the importance of education and employment in mitigating poverty.
According to a United Nations Development Programme assessment of the socio-economic impact of Covid-19 on South Africa, the higher the level of education achieved by the head of a household, the lower the likelihood of the household falling into poverty.
The main findings at the household level show that female-headed households are more likely to fall into poverty than male-headed households. Workers with only primary school education and those with only middle school education, characterised as unskilled and semi-skilled, are the worst affected.
Similarly, households that experience more secure employment, including permanent employment and self-employment, have a lower likelihood of falling into poverty.
We appreciate that these impacts confirm the challenges that our country has been facing, even before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, our frailties and vulnerabilities as a species is being shown up, and there is a sense of the world being more insecure. We cannot escape the lesson that we must do today what we want for tomorrow.
If ever we had a priority to invest in education and small business development, we now have even more so.
In the normal course of times, education equips individuals with knowledge and skills. It creates a skilled work population, improves productivity, and drives business growth. Investing in education creates skilled people with rising incomes and a demand for products and services, which creates new markets and new opportunities for growth.
Small businesses are equally important to South Africa’s economy. They are a key driver of job creation and GDP growth. They are also an essential part in the value chain of many big businesses, and supply important services, including to less-served local economies.
We are faced now with the task to recover and grow our economy. The indications are that it will take a number of years to recover to even to the not so great position we occupied before the pandemic. High priorities in that recovery and growth effort remain education, skills and small business development.
Through this crisis, we have shown that we have it within us to prevail and to overcome. We have rallied across the board, as civil society NGOs, government, business and labour to focus on a national priority response. Each sector has played its unique role and come together as well in collaboration.
This unity of purpose MUST be carried forward for inclusive social and economic recovery, and well beyond that, to overcome our socio-economic challenges. The national priority focus, the will, solidarity, self-sacrifice and creativity that has been shown in response to the epidemic must serve us as well in response to our widespread challenges of unemployment, inequality, crime and poverty.
We are inter-dependent. That is a vein that runs through our history. We are connected across class, race, gender and other lines – and we stand or fall together. The social and economic problems that afflict large parts of our population affects the whole of society. There is no escaping that. If not on the basis of moral obligation and social commitment, then on the basis of an enlightened interest, we are compelled, all of us, to address the social and economic problems of our society. Never has the slogan ‘’An injury to one is an injury to all” been more pertinent.
The creation of shared value, in which financial benefit also produces social benefit, has to be a strategic imperative for all companies. We are called on to be more relevant, and more creative in the objects and programmes of our partnerships. Indeed, that is a question before us today. It means going beyond a mere funding relationship to a shared, dynamic commitment; to partnership rooted in a shared patriotic commitment to development.
I call for partnership with Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation in its pursuit to build an inclusive and empowered society. I call for more collaborative efforts that will contribute to systemic improvements in the sectors in which the Foundation works.
This is a call to all of us, because education, skills development and job creation are vital for economic growth and development.
Let us develop the skills and the jobs that the economy needs. Support Whole School Development, support the drive for access to tertiary education and holistic youth development programmes, and nurture small businesses and contribute to entrepreneurship development. With your support, collaboration and partnership, we can advance the work and impact of Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, and positively impact many lives.