Exploring the informal business sector in Clairwood, Durban, South Africa,
Bracking, Sarah Louise.
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This paper aims to investigate alternative measures of value amongst marginalised citizens in South Africa. More specifically, the objective of this study is to understand the value of informal business within the under privileged area of Clairwood, Durban. The rationale is to explore the under-reported economic activities and advantages of micro enterprises operated by low income households. These livelihood and small enterprise activities are at risk by changing infrastructural developments which threaten displacement to this community, which is based within an industrial complex. This study highlights the contribution that informal traders make to the city and re-imagines sustainable development in the urban low-income context. This locally driven micro economy provides sufficient resources to raise many out of poverty. Clairwood is one of these unique scenarios: a mix of formal, yet declining manufacturing industries, surrounded by complementary micro informal businesses, as well as formal to informal dwelling settlements. These characteristics somehow work symbiotically and in harmony to support each other, benefiting residents’ financial and work needs. Findings show that Clairwood residents are not necessarily unsupportive of economic activities in their community, but that they are concerned about the encroaching and non-participatory nature of national infrastructure and specifically port sector imperatives which further debilitate their efforts to preserve their heritage and economic livelihoods. Worryingly, residents feel continuously framed as uncooperative and unable to participate. Such perceptions miss the true value of the economic and participatory contributions of the local community of Clairwood. This study offers an alternative that hears the voice of this diverse community and allows them to express their values, further contributing to an alternative vision of low carbon, sustainable development.