Business takes on the baddies

Downtown Johannesburg puts a bounce in your step. Streets bustle with noisy fruit-sellers and minibus drivers seeking custom. But South Africa’s commercial capital can also put a knot of fear in your stomach. Jozi, as locals call it, is notorious for muggings and armed robbery. Corporate offices bristle with impenetrable security and armies of guards. Yet the area has grown less edgy since Schumpeter first visited, nearly two decades ago. For that, give some credit to Business Against Crime. The association pays for hundreds of cctv cameras, and for staff to monitor them and alert police to mischief.

South African bosses are far from alone in their concern over crime—be it against their customers, employees or property. According to the World Bank, 17% of all firms (from a global survey of 135,000) count crime as a “major constraint”. In Brazil or Ivory Coast it is nearer to 70%. In El Salvador and Kenya four in five firms pay for private security. A survey in Mexico found that small businesses there spend 6% of their income on such protection, double the level of a decade ago. Companies distributing goods in gang-run neighbourhoods of Medellin, in Colombia, lose 8-15% of their revenues to theft, says Sergio Tobón, who heads Proantioquia, which unites 50 of the country’s biggest companies in the city, once home to Pablo Escobar. In the United States, a single killing depresses local property prices by 1.5% on average the following year. In Washington, dc, every homicide is associated with two businesses closing.

This article originally appeared on The Economist. Link to original article here.