Late last month the Department of Small Business Development launched financial assistance by way of a debt relief fund to help small, micro, and medium enterprises deal with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The aim of the initiative is to lessen the financial burden on businesses that can no longer trade as much as they did before the national lockdown, or who are unable to trade at all as they are not part of the “essential services” exempted from lockdown as detailed in President Ramaphosa’s speech on the 24th of March.
Small Business Development minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said that “For SMMEs to be eligible for assistance under the debt relief fund, the applicant must demonstrate the direct link of the impact or the potential impact of COVID-19 on business operations.
“This facility will also assist entities to acquire raw material, pay labour and operational costs. All these interventions will be structured to match the patterns of the SMMEs cash flows, as well as the extent of the impact suffered”, she added.
To make the process as easy as possible, government has created an online portal where small businesses can apply for assistance.
The portal is located at this address.
Applicants must fill in their business details, along with the type of assistance requested (financial, non-financial), employee and ownership demographics, annual turnover, and other pertinent details about their operations.
Businesses that would like to apply for debt relief or which qualify under the Business Growth/Resiliency category must download PDF forms from the website (links found at the top of the portal page), fill them in, and email them to government (the relevant email addresses are on the forms).
The types of information required for these forms are contact and company information, as well as details about the industries or sectors businesses are in, the type of products and services they supply, and examples of their clients and potential clients.
Categories & Stipulations
Under the Business Growth Facility, the categories of funds that can be applied for are:
• Micro R50,000 – R250,000
• Small R250,001 – R 2,500,000
• Medium R 2,500,001 – R 5,000,000
The stipulations in the Debt Relief Finance category are:
• No historical Municipal Debt Municipal accounts capped at R5,000
• NB: salary payment scales will be in line with UIF scale
• Companies contributing to UIF must claim from UIF but the companies eligible for funding must register with UIF
Financial assistance applications will need to supply a number of documents in these processes. For example, company statutory documents, FICA documents, IDs of directors, and three months of bank statements.
Many billions of rands have been contributed by government, the business community, and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to make these financial assistance interventions possible.
Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition Ebrahim Patel said in his speech on the 24th of March:
“The President announced that the IDC has put a package together with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition of more than R3 billion for industrial funding to address the situation of vulnerable firms and to fast-track financing for companies critical to our efforts to fight the virus and its economic impact.
This financial assistance will be available to South African owned businesses.
It is important that industry does not come to a standstill and therefore the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) is responding to sector challenges that arise from this crisis whether these are surges in demand or those industries that are facing distress.
We have made two special interventions:
- R500 million has been allocated for trade finance to import essential medical products;
- R700 million has been allocated for working capital and equipment and machinery
- In addition to this, the IDC is engaging industry players to address surges in demand
- Ensuring food security by prioritizing support to Agriculture and food value chains
- Tourism sector support for working capital
- Bridging finance to support supply chain interruptions
- Working capital to ensure energy security by supporting suppliers of primary energy
- Working capital and Bridging Finance to SMEs that provide components to car-makers
In addition to the above, IDC has made available a capital allocation of R3 billion in the next quarter to support businesses during this crisis.”
At Tarsus Distribution, we realise many of our reseller partners are feeling the pain of these unprecedented times and the economic impacts of the national lockdown.
We encourage affected partners to talk to us about their situations and we will see if there is anything we can do to help; speak to your account managers first, and they will direct you appropriately.
We encourage partners to apply to government for appropriate interventions as well.
It is true that we are stronger together, and together we can – and will – weather this roughest of storms. We are compassionate, resilient, and innovative, and we will leverage these qualities to the best of our abilities to help the channel survive these incredibly challenging times.
God speed, and good luck.