More needed to grow black middle class

Jul 02 2013 10:09 Fin24

Cape Town - Although the growth of South Africa's black middle class has more than doubled over the past eight years, there is still much that has to be done by both business and government, according to Adam Samie, CEO of Lion of Africa Insurance.

The latest research by the UCT Unilever Institute of Strategic Markteting shows the country's black middle class has grown from 1.7 million people in 2004 to an estimated 4.2 million in 2012.

Samie said that South Africa needs a fundamental mind-shift where all sectors of its society, business, labour, civil society and government hold hands to develop specific outcomes-based solutions to deal with the various challenges faced by the black middle class.

"We need a much more effective plan and cohesive strategy from all role players to make things work and to deliver real value," he said.

The idea behind this methodology is that businesses across the economic sector that have access to capital should invest strategically in initiatives that involve the majority of the people in South Africa.

"This would enable us to move the proportion of economically active people in our country to include the vast majority of our population and perhaps produce a productive market of between 20 million and 30million people.

"Not only will this deliver wealth and create opportunities for everybody, but it will certainly lead to a better quality of life. It is only through putting people to productive use that we can be able to lead on to an economy that actually produces for everybody," added Samie.

He said that business can play a huge role by developing and empowering local contractors, as well as small businesses.

"This would effectively create opportunities for business to engage with previously disadvantaged people and black entrepreneurs who can come in, obtain some of these jobs, and in that way create wealth for themselves," he said.

"This is very closely tied to the fact that we still need to create and facilitate the development of these skills in the economy. For example, in order to bring black plumbers into the equation, there needs to be an understanding that black plumbers are available and can perform, and do these repairs to the required standards."

According to Samie Government also has a major role to play and currently does this through Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) and various initiatives.

"Although these initiatives mean well and uplift citizens, the government and business need to start working together to develop a cohesive strategy that will lead to the creation of real jobs, up-skill people and enable them to take up positions across various industries," he said.

- Fin24

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