Illiteracy prevents many South Africa’s from achieving their full potential. Without the skills required for reading and writing these citizens are doomed to a life of manual labour and cannot become truly productive members of their communities. Illiteracy results in both low self esteem and low productivity, both of which have negative effects on social structure and business productivity. If South Africa is to become a competitive force in the global economic environment and build a better life for all its people then adult basic education programs must be aggressively rolled out across the country. Only when these programs are a fact of life for business can we expect real growth, both for our citizens and for the country itself.