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The Q1 2021 Business Partners Limited SME Index found that the reintroduction of load shedding has had a negative impact on 49% of small and medium enterprises (SME) surveyed, however they were able to work around it. Earlier this month, South Africans were unexpectedly subjected to stage 4 load shedding, which presents a unique set of challenges for small businesses.

The third annual State of Small Business report by Xero and World Wide Worx states that over half of South African SMEs have not yet adopted cloud technology because they cannot rely on a consistent and efficient flow of electricity or internet connectivity. In fact, almost 60% of the businesses that were surveyed said that the scheduled power outages posed a significant threat to their daily operations and revenue stream.

What’s becoming clearer is that load shedding is going nowhere any time soon, with some forecasters predicting that it could be a South African reality for the next five years. If you’re a small business owner, it’s a reality you’ll need to prepare for. We’ve shared a few guidelines on what to consider:

So you have a generator, but is it insured?

A generator might be able to keep you going when the lights go out, but have you considered insuring it? While generators cost between R25 000 and R150 000 to replace, the repairs could end up costing more than the generator is worth, so insurance is a worthwhile investment. Check with your business insurer whether your generator can be insured as part of your current policy. If you are insured, make sure that it is installed professionally and operated correctly, as there are industry standards that need to be adhered to for insurance to be valid. You’ll need a certificate of compliance from a qualified electrician to prove that it was installed correctly, so this is not a DIY job.

The answer is in the cloud

Not only has load shedding affected the way we work, it’s affected where we work and can cause havoc when attempting to save work as systems are forced offline – we’ve all experienced that dreaded feeling when you lose a document you’ve worked on tirelessly. This, coupled with the third wave of COVID-19 and a slow vaccine rollout means that office-based working is unlikely to return to “normal” in the foreseeable future. The answer is to embrace cloud-based business solutions as they allow team members to log in from anywhere in the world, at any time, with the necessary resources available to them. Cloud solutions promote efficiency and eliminate the need for constant backups. Converting to the cloud allows businesses to pay for what they use, cut hardware expenses dramatically and decrease rental expenditure.

Considering a UPS? You have options.

It’s fair to say that the biggest inconvenience caused by load shedding is the interruption to internet connectivity. To remedy this interruption, you could opt to buy a UPS (‘uninterrupted power supply’), which ranges from between R1 000 to R45 000 – but not all UPS systems are created equal. Standby UPS systems provide a short-term source of electricity and operate with a static switch to transfer the load automatically from the utility to the inverter when the power cuts out. A Double Conversation UPS is ideal for powering up mission-critical equipment and machinery, and a Line Interactive UPS keeps track of incoming voltage and regulates voltage automatically when low or high levels occur. It’s best to contact an electrician to help you calculate the voltage you require and advise on a cost-effective UPS solution to match your needs.


About the Author: Ben Bierman

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Ben Bierman has been our Managing Director since 2015. He joined our company in 1990 and has risen through the ranks occupying various positions ranging from being a management accountant, Head of Information Technology and Chief Financial Officer. Ben is an avid reader, enjoys classical music and being in the outdoors including for hunting trips. He is our go-to-spokesperson for our SME Confidence Index, SME sector policy and trend matters, and business leadership articles.