The findings clearly show that the success of these informal businesses were largely due to the women’s ability to be flexible, adapt and innovate in their business practices. These women also demonstrated resilience and perseverance both in the face of township violence as well as managing the impact of the economic downturn. They were able to adapt their trading practices to client demands and placed a high value on good customer relationships. All of these small businesses were not registered. A key recommendation emanating from this study is the need to document further case studies concerning successful small businesses and to engage in large-scale mixed methodology research into the informal sector in South Africa.