The February 2021 survey, conducted on the Facebook platform, included 689 respondents in South Africa.

The survey sample was drawn from the population of Facebook platform users. Statistics are reported for those who owned or managed a small business and are weighted to adjust for non-response, among other factors.

Respondents were invited to the survey and took it within the Facebook app, with participation optional and non-compensated.

One in two small and medium-sized businesses in South Africa has yet to see revenues recover to pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest edition. According to the research, 50% of operational South African small businesses on Facebook reported that their sales in February were lower than the equivalent month last year.

Some 74% reported that they were operational or engaging in any revenue-generating activities, while 8% of operational businesses on Facebook expected challenges related to cash flow; 20% expected challenges related to demand or a lack of customers in the next few months.

Continuing trends observed throughout the pandemic include:
  • women-owned South African businesses being hit especially hard and
  • some 71% of women-led small businesses (versus 77% of men-led businesses) being operational.
Six in 10 operational, women-led businesses reported that sales in the past month were lower than February 2020, prior to the pandemic, compared to four in 10 of operational, men-led ones.

"South African small businesses continue to struggle since the start of the pandemic, more than a year ago," says Nunu Ntshingila, Facebook Africa's regional director. "Our latest report is a timely reminder that many are still vulnerable and need support. It's also a reminder that whenever a crisis hits, it's always the most vulnerable who are hit the hardest."

Less than half (45%) of operational South African small businesses on Facebook said they were confident in their ability to continue operating for at least six months, if current circumstances persist; 36% of operational ones on Facebook reported they had reduced the number of employees / workers as a result of the pandemic.

This highlights the urgent need for customers, government and other stakeholders to continue supporting small businesses who continue to navigate the challenges of Covid-19, says the report.

If there is a silver lining, it's that many businesses are finding success online, according to the platform. Globally, 87% of business leaders at operational small businesses indicated that they used at least one of the Facebook family of applications. Advertising and selling goods or services online were other predominant uses of digital tools and integral to connecting SMBs to customers.

Ntshingila says, "Facebook is in the business of small businesses. Whatever challenges and opportunities South African businesses face in 2021 and beyond, we will continue to do all we can to help them with their economic recovery and, hopefully, thrive online."

In 2020, as part of its ongoing commitment, Facebook has launched Facebook Shops in South Africa to make it easier to sell online. It has also created a Business Resource Hub where small businesses can get training, advice and information. 

Individuals who would like more details on the methodology and sampling can click here

For more information, visit