How Load-shedding Affects Small Businesses 

Updated on 12 August 2022

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how loadshedding affects small businesses

It’s estimated that load-shedding can cost South Africa over R4 Billion a day. This can be devastating for small businesses.  

There are many different ways that load-shedding affects small businesses. It doesn’t matter what the business does or what industry it’s in, it will almost certainly be affected by load-shedding power outages in some way.  

Knowing how load-shedding affects small businesses is important for preparing for these incredibly disruptive power cuts. Here are some of the main ways that small businesses suffer from load-shedding.  

Production and Productivity Loss 

When looking at how load-shedding affects small businesses, one of the main issues is a loss of production. All kinds of businesses and industries require electricity to produce their products and services. This can include businesses in manufacturing, services that use electrical equipment (like auto mechanics), restaurants, and more.   

Losing electrical supplies results in a pause in the day’s work. This could mean a significant loss of business, not being able to fulfil orders or customer requests, or producing product shortages.  

Wi-Fi Goes Down 

Wi-Fi loss is one of the biggest load-shedding concerns for small businesses. Just about every business relies on the Internet in one way or another. For some businesses, their entire operations are done online. With a loss of wifi, business operations have to be put on hold for a few hours.  

This has become an increasingly important issue as work-from-home jobs have become more popular. While certain office spaces and business districts might have power available during load-shedding, people working from home will have their power cut throughout the day.  

Security Issues 

There is an increased risk of burglaries when the power goes out. Burglar alarms or security cameras won’t work without a backup power source, so small businesses face a greater risk of theft. This has caused many small businesses to close their doors during load-shedding hours.  

Payment Issues 

Many ATMs don’t work during load-shedding. At the same time, credit card terminals often don’t work during load-shedding either. If a small business can’t accept payments, it can’t operate.  

Businesses generally have to only trade in cash during load-shedding. However, many people don’t carry cash with them these days. As mentioned above, with ATMs not working, drawing cash is often impossible.  

Cellphone Networks Going Down 

load-shedding affects many cellphone networks in South Africa, When the power goes out, so does the cellphone signal. 

This can be disastrous for small businesses, as so many businesses rely on their cell phones for their daily operations. This could mean people can’t get hold of a business, or the business can’t perform any communication during load-shedding hours. 

Electronics Damage 

When the power turns on and off throughout the day, this often results in large surges of power. These power surges can cause major damage to businesses’ electrical equipment.  

For businesses with vital and expensive electrical equipment, like industrial coffee machines, manufacturing equipment, or computers, damaged electronics could result in the business not being able to operate.  

Increases Traffic Issues 

When looking at how load-shedding affects small businesses, this includes indirect factors – such as traffic issues. Traffic lights go out during load-shedding hours, which can result in increased congestion on the roads.  

For small businesses, this could mean a loss of customers due to traffic, or employees arriving at work late. Traffic jams also often result in more accidents, which can affect small business operations, meetings, and deadlines.  

Increased Costs in Alternative Power Supplies 

Many small businesses have to invest in alternative power supplies to help them combat load-shedding. This includes things like generators, power banks, or dongles and routers. These extra power sources can be expensive.  

With wifi going down, many businesses also have to switch to cellphone data during load-shedding. The extra data costs can also be a major expense. Restaurants also often increase the amount of gas that they use during load-shedding hours. Again, this can increase operating costs significantly.  

Small businesses have endless challenges that they need to face each day, and load-shedding can be one of the worst. load-shedding often forces businesses to close for a large portion of the day. This has many repercussions, all of which result in impacted revenue and profits.  

It’s important that small businesses prepare for load-shedding as best as they can, and understand what power sources and alternatives are available to them during these dark hours. Investing in a power supply to combat load-shedding could ultimately save your business. 

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