South Africa has been ranked an “upper middle-income[1]” country, continuing to hold second place as the largest economy in Africa based on 2017 GDP, following Nigeria. As one of the most sophisticated and rapidly growing emerging markets in the continent, South Africa has strong and well-developed financial systems and economic policy frameworks in place. However, political instability and the persistent influence of the country’s history of apartheid have had significant economic and social structural effects[2]. The unemployment rate remains a primary challenge, sitting at 55% youth unemployment in Quarter 1 of 2019[3], together with the skills shortage, poor quality education and persistent dual economy with increasing inequality.

 Within this larger economic context, a concentrated examination of one economically active area within South Africa can provide greater insight into the country’s economic dynamics and how to foster a local environment in which small and growing businesses can thrive. The Durban Ecosystem Snapshot Survey is one such initiative and was conducted by the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) in partnership with Innovate Durban, a local organisation.

 Durban is the largest city of KwaZulu-Natal province and chief seaport of South Africa, located on the Natal Bay of the Indian Ocean. Durban is the third most economically active city in South Africa after Cape Town and Johannesburg and is a city of ports, working as a centre of industry, trade, and manufacturing. Durban is also referred to as eThekwini, i. e. the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, which is a metropolitan municipality created in 2000 that includes the city of Durban and surrounding towns. The remit of this snapshot extends to the borders of the eThekwini Municipality.

 The insights in this snapshot are derived from primary data collection from entrepreneur support providers in Durban, as well as stakeholder feedback and external research cited throughout the snapshot.




[1] (2018). World Bank Data: South Africa. World Bank. 

[3] (2019). World Bank: South Africa Overview. World Bank.  

Top Impact objective


of survey respondents focus on Capacity building

Top Sector of Focus


of survey respondents focus on Sector agnostic

Top Stakeholder Focus


of survey respondents focus on Youth entrepreneurs

Top Types of Stakeholders


of survey respondents focus on Business development service provider