Compiled in partnership with the World Bank and the OECD, Facebook's report surveyed over 30 000 small business owners and employees from around the world in over 50 countries.

In South Africa, the survey reveals that despite the challenges, SMBs are reporting that they're 'optimistic' but that there is a long-term jobs crisis on South Africa's hands.

The survey indicates that over 44% of operational SMBs on Facebook feel optimistic about the future of their business: 42% of female-led SMBs on Facebook (and 66% of male-led SMBs) currently operational or engaging in revenue led activities.

However, among operational South African small businesses (SMBs) on Facebook, 45% expect cash flow to be a challenge in the next few months, while the same amount having had to reduce the number of employees / workers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of those that are operational, the report says that 67% have indicated that sales this year were lower than last year.

Facebook's report says that digital continues to play a key part in the economic recovery of these businesses, with 59% of operational SMBs on Facebook reporting 25% or more of their sales were made digitally in the past month.

"Small businesses are the heart of our communities — from coffee shops and bookstores to plumbers, taverns and graphic designers," says Nunu Ntshingila, regional director at Facebook Africa.

"But we know they are facing the challenge of a lifetime. These survey results further highlight that the COVID-19 pandemic isn't just a public health emergency, but also an economic crisis that is hitting SMBs exceptionally hard; [it is] one that collectively as a community we need to urgently address," adds Ntshingila.

The global survey also highlights that globally, the tourism and hospitality sector worldwide has borne the brunt of COVID-19 related restrictions and reduced consumer spending.

Half of businesses in these sectors reporting that they have had to close. Smaller businesses — those owned and operated by one person — have seen these closures at a greater rate than others, with globally 26% of SMBs reported that they had closed between January and May 2020; this is over 50% in some countries.

"Globally, more than 160 million businesses use Facebook, Instagram, Messenger or WhatsApp every month to reach their customers, sell their products or services and ultimately to grow," says Ntshingila.

"They are the heartbeat of Facebook's community and since the early days of the pandemic, we have taken steps to help them weather the storm. These are tough times for businesses all over the world; we would like to help with their recovery," concludes Ntshingila.

As part of its ongoing commitment, Facebook has launched Facebook Shops in South Africa to make it easier to sell online. The platform has additionally created a Business Resource Hub where SMBs can get training, advice and information, including that from healthcare experts.

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