The Surveys of Employers and Self-Employed (SESE) are a set of surveys undertaken by Statistics South Africa in September 2001, September 2005, September 2009 and September 2013. These are surveys of non-VAT registered businesses in South Africa. The primary aim of these surveys is to obtain estimates of the size of value added in the informal sector for the compilation of the national accounts. Because no business register exists for businesses that are not registered for VAT, these businesses must be identified in another way. Stats SA identified non-VAT registered businesses through the Labour Force Surveys (in 2001 and 2005) and the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (in 2009 and 2013). Individuals who were surveyed in the (Q)LFSs and found to be running unregistered businesses were then targeted for enumeration in the SESE. The SESEs asked many detailed questions about the business run by the owner and enabled Stats SA to obtain value added in each unregistered business and thus an estimate for the whole unregistered economy.
A stacked cross-sectional dataset - the Employers and Self-employed Series (ESS) - has been created by DataFirst from these four surveys and released publicly via the DataFirst web portal.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data
Unit of Analysis
v1.3: Edited, anonymised data for public distribution
Version 1.3 is the first release of the survey and the first version received by DataFirst.
Statistics South Africa's Survey of Employers and Self Employed collected background data on small businesses and their operations, including their premises, the establishment of the business and start-up finance. Data was also collected on business production and the workforce, expenditure, capital and transport.
The survey had national coverage.
The lowest level of geographic aggregation for the data is Province.
The survey covered all non VAT-registered businesses in South Africa
Producers and sponsors
Statistics South Africa
Producer of the original SESE datasets
Research Project on Employment, Income Distribution and Inclusive Growth
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Public use files, available to all
Kerr, Andrew. Employers and Self Employed Series 2001-2013 [dataset]. Version 1.3. Cape Town: DataFirst [producer], 2015. Cape Town: DataFirst [distributor], 2015. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25828/ag88-2j21