The Informal Economy Development Forum (IEDF) is a new body that has been set up to drive growth within the sector, support informal economy workers and function as the conduit between government, corporate South Africa and the informal economy.

The IEDF’s key objectives are to improve the business, labour and regulatory environment in which informal businesses operate, ensuring equitable access to skills development and training, finance and the removal and simplification of regulatory requirements that prohibit growth to benefit South Africa’s 5.2-million informal workers.

The informal economy represents one-third of all employment in South Africa and is a critical economic incubator for both job creation and entrepreneurship, yet it receives very little support from government and the formal economy.

It is in everyone’s interest that this sector is protected, supported and geared for growth. A strong informal sector is central to the economic development goals of our country and is also important for alleviating poverty and joblessness, and for embedding a culture of inclusive and sustainable growth.

People who run informal or micro businesses are inherently motivated to succeed. They are hardworking initiative-takers who, with the appropriate training, skills development and business environment, can play a larger, more valuable role in the economy.

Key areas on which the IEDF will focus include the formalisation of businesses and cooperation between government, labour, corporate and civil society to drive an inclusive economic transformation agenda.

Further, the IEDF will focus on the removal of regulatory and legislative barriers and red tape encumbering growth, driving employment, especially among the youth, and facilitating education, skills development and social protection of informal workers and businesses.

It will also develop training programmes to drive effective and professional labour practices within the informal economy.