We seek to reduce the barriers to economic inclusion for informal workers and the self-employed in the informal economy. Our work advocates for the reform of inappropriate legislation which restricts the spaces and places accessible to the informal sector and hinders access to legal protection via formalisation. We support the economic rights of street traders, mobile hawkers, waste pickers and persons operating home-based micro-enterprises. Our research has highlighted the ‘enforced informalisation’ of self-employed persons who, in seeking to provide a livelihood, are unable to comply with laws fashioned for established formal businesses and enduring spatial inequality. Most informal workers and micro-enterprises have no alternative to operating informally (and illegally) and are, as a result, subject to a host of challenges from police corruption to unfair competition to tenure insecurity to financial exclusion. We have documented the impact of these barriers in townships across South Africa.