How South African SMEs Can Mitigate Business Risks Caused by Load-Shedding

South Africans have spent the last fifteen years struggling with the, seemingly, unending scourge of national load-shedding. The reality is that South Africa’s vulnerable electrical grid has had a huge impact on businesses, organisations, families and individuals across the country. Eskom, South Africa’s state-owned electricity supplier, has failed in many different areas to provide the requisite grid power needed to sustain the national economy and the citizens who support it.

Eskom’s relentless financial, resource and operational issues have meant that South Africans have had to adapt to living with unreliable power and rolling blackouts. Load-shedding has been, especially, impactful to the foundation of the national economy: small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It is becoming harder and harder to rely on generators, backup batteries, uninterrupted power supplies and battery-powered equipment – and SMEs are paying the price.

As unsustainable as coal has been for Eskom, fuel sources for generator power are as unsustainable. Most large businesses and multinational corporations have been able to continue operating on alternative power supplies and renewable energy sources for many years. However, SMEs have not been able to keep up with the growing concern around South Africa’s energy independence and reliability.

Small and medium businesses are struggling to maintain their viability amidst load-shedding and Eskom failures. In fact, SMEs are closing down all over the country, while many large businesses have bounced back from the pandemic and managed to continue operation despite insufficient power supplies. It should not be up to the owner of an SME to ensure that their enterprise is able to function without power.

We, as South Africans, should be able to rely on our exclusive electricity provider to do their job and maintain the national power grid – so we can do ours. Unfortunately, it does not look like load-shedding will not slow down any time soon. So, what can SMEs do about it? There are a variety of alternative power solutions and environmentally-friendly changes that can help SMEs manage load-shedding over the short or long term.

Let us take a look at some of the ways that SMEs can mitigate the business risks associated with load-shedding and reduce the impact of unreliable power supplies on your business:

Becoming more energy efficient

It is hard to ask any business owner to take on the burden of energy efficiency, while the nation’s only large power provider is turning off your electricity, daily. However, introducing energy-efficient practices and technologies into your business operations can make navigating those unreliable power supplies much easier, such as implementing power management systems, introducing eco-friendly equipment or building energy-efficient systems.

Diversifying your power supply

Unfortunately, there is no competitor to Eskom. However, many SMEs have benefitted from introducing its own additional power supplies. Diverse or alternative generation systems, such as solar power, can help your SME manage critical activities during load-shedding hours. This limits your dependence on the national grid and provides a reliable back-up that mitigates business risks amidst rolling blackouts.

Battery power storage

One of the most important innovations over recent years has been the ability to more effectively collect and store additional power generated by diverse electricity sources. Battery power storage has evolved to collect more power, more reliably and more easily than ever before. This can help small businesses manage periods without electricity and limit the potential impact load-shedding will have on their daily operations.

Keeping up with the schedule

Whether you are facing load-shedding at home, at the office or with clients, it is critical to know the load-shedding schedule in any important locations. SMEs, in particular, need to know when their power is going off and prepare the business as necessary. Even two-hour load-shedding blocks can cause SMEs to lose significant portions of their operational income when they are caught unaware.

Conduct frequent energy audits

It is important to conduct a variety of resource audits when running a business, especially for SMEs during significant periods of load-shedding. In particular, energy audits can help your business understand what and where energy is being used for and how much is needed to maintain operations. Identifying areas of inefficiency and operations that drain a lot of energy can have huge benefits for SMEs.

Utilise independent power producers

The South African government’s parastatal ownership is a huge concern for those who would like to invest in independent power producers (IPPs). IPPs have struggled to grow in a national economy that does not support independent electricity generation. Fortunately, persistent and capable IPPs are still able to provide power to homes and businesses for the hours of load-shedding. Not a permanent solution yet, but a reliable and cost-effective alternative power option during blackouts.

Incentives for investing in alterative power supplies

There are many business, government and market incentives to entice commercial properties and business owners to integrate alternative power supplies into their operations. Government incentivises you to invest in alternative energy generation, such as capital expenditure deductions on resources used to generate that power. Additionally, SMEs benefit from energy independence and operational stability during load-shedding, as well as public support for eco-friendly businesses in the market.


LeafySpace understands the difficulties caused by load-shedding facing every South African business, including its own unique challenges. LeafySpace has extensive experience in the designing, maintaining and installing of alternative power solutions for SMEs. Our Solar Power Installations are a perfect solution for your SME and will be transformative to your business’s operational capabilities during load-shedding.

Contact LeafySpace today and find out how our brilliant team can help your SME become more energy independent.

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