During the daily website paddle, I read an article that had the journo calling for increased grassroots entrepreneurship in South Africa. He said that our government obviously is not about to tend to the poorer individual’s plight so best that the individual getting tending to it him/herself. He gave Hanoi as an example, where informal food stalls & shops abound all over busy thriving trading streets. Why is this not happening in SA? Why are the people in need of a lift up not finding ways to lift themselves up?
The one (At that stage, Only one! How lovely!) commentator said, that’s all well & great but so often bureaucracy do not allow these informal traders to operate, or to operate where they will reach the real demand, that our policies and practices severely discourage entrepreneurship at the resource-and-power-poor level.
It reminded me of my time put in at The Soulless Office Park.
We had 4 options for food purchasing:
1. Expensive dull-tasting offerings at the franchised coffee shop
2. Expensive greasy “sandwich” shop food where the owners spent their time screaming at the staff more than focusing on your order
3. Get in car & drive 10 minutes to nearest shopping rat-in-a-cage-tuned mall, pay for parking, pay for stress of lunch-time traffic, find fast food… and by then your lunchtime has ticked over
4. The Sandwich Lady – she arrived every day around 10am with a coolbox of fresh well-priced well-stuffed sandwiches, drinks, chips & chocolates. You could take food on credit. She knew your name & all about your life. She was another member of staff in your mind.
[Are you picking a bias for my choice of meal…]
One day the two office-park eateries complained about this little entrepreneurial spirit. And they demanded The Sandwich Lady not be allowed to operate in the office park.
We all protested & signed petitions & shouted complaints of unfairness.
A compromise was found… The Sandwich Lady would get to the gate of the office park, the security guard would phone all the companies & let us know she was there, and then we could all leave our desks, leave our buildings, and walk up to the gate & buy food outside if we would be so inclined to.
I don’t have stats, but I can’t imagine this “Big Business Bullying” did her business any good.
She was still operating when I left. She even snuck onto the grounds & up to our offices on my last day to hug me goodbye.
Funny how much kak the little man has to put up with.