The rise and fall of Black commercial middle class in Mdantsane

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University of Fort Hare


This study contributes to our understanding of South Africa’s historical Black Commercial middle class; a class defined by access to business opportunities before the implementation of the homeland system and enhanced by the government support during the homeland system. The class under study is a particular Black Commercial middle class that rose and established itself in Mdantsane between 1967, when Mdantsane was established, and fell and disappeared post 1994. Post 1994 marks the time for a new political dispensation in South Africa; a period that allowed the presence of foreign nationals in the South African township economies. The study explores the origins and historical evolution of African entrepreneurship in Mdantsane Township, East London, South Africa. The study discusses the internal and external forces that led to the emergence of local enterprises and how the arrival of newcomers, post 1994, impacted on the Mdantsane entrepreneurs. The study is presented in three phases that show how phase 1 of the Black Commercial middle class began as a success story between 1967 and 1979, and expanded through phase 2 between 1980 and 1994, but gradually displaced by foreign traders and commercial operators during phase 3 (post 1994); a transition defined by a shift from formal to informal entrepreneurship.



Business enterprises, Black -- South Africa, South Africa -- Politics and government -- 1994-, South Africa -- Commerce