Facebook’s Global State of Small Business Report reveals that the small business recovery is underway, but inequalities and challenges persist.

The report surveyed 35 000 small businesses across 30 countries and territories between July and August 2021.

Key findings include the following:

* Closure rates: Globally, 18% of small businesses said they were currently closed, down from 24% in February. This compares to a rise in closure rates in South Africa, Australia, and Pakistan, all of which have experienced unique challenges related to the delta variant, political unrest, strict NPIs, and vaccine hesitancy.

* Reducing employment: Of those businesses still operating globally, more reported reduced employment this time round, rising from 30% in February to 36% in July. In South Africa, over 40% surveyed SMBs said they’re not planning to hire more workers over the coming months, with only 34% planning on hiring in the next coming months.

* Impact on women-led SMBS: Women-led businesses were still more likely to be closed than the global average. 20% of women-led businesses were closed globally, compared to 16% of those led by men. Women-led businesses in South Africa were 48% confident in ability to stay open for at least 12 months.

* Digitisation: An increasing share of SMBs are using digital tools, with 88% indicating they were doing so compared to 81% at the start of 2021.

* Expected challenges: 88% of business leaders globally stated that they envisioned they would face some form of significant challenge over the course of the next few months. The most common challenges cited by SMBs were a potential lack of demand and worries over cash flow.