Where South Africans can find financial support if they are struggling

Many South African businesses are experiencing a loss in revenue and an uncertain future due to the extended coronavirus lockdown in South Africa.

Many non-essential companies are prohibited from operating, while others can only do business in a limited capacity.

Small and medium-sized enterprises are particularly hard-hit, as many of these businesses do not have deep pockets and rely on each month’s income to pay employees and stay afloat.

The economic impact of the lockdown means these businesses will have to cut staff or even close down.

The economic downturn is so severe, in fact, that Efficient Group economist Dawie Roodt expects between 100,000 and 200,000 businesses to shut down permanently.

He further estimates, based on the anticipated GDP decline in 2020, that 1 million jobs could be lost in South Africa this year.

Help for businesses and employees

The good news for South African businesses and employees is there are many ways in which they can apply for financial assistance.

The government has set up a Solidarity Fund, which includes private donations and seed capital from the state, to help people during this period.

The Rupert and Oppenheimer families have each set up a R1-billion fund to assist businesses and employees during this time.

The major banks have launched debt relief programmes to assist businesses and individuals who are in financial distress.

There is also a Tourism Relief Fund which provides once-off capped grant assistance to SMMEs in the tourism value chain.

The table below provides an overview of prominent funds and how South Africans can apply for assistance.

Relief Initiatives for Businesses and Employees
Oppenheimer Fund – South Africa Future Fund
Criteria Benefits How to apply
Have an annual turnover of less than R25 million.

Have been trading for two or more years.

Must be in good standing with its bank, statutory creditors and with the bureaus as at the end of February 2020

Be able to prove that revenue has been impacted by COVID-19 and therefore requires assistance to pay their permanent staff salaries.

No minimum monthly payments requirements and needs to be settled in full at the end of the term.

Employees carry no liability for the repayment of the loan

Qualifying small businesses will get a R750 per qualifying employee per week, over a period of 15 weeks, or R11 250 per permanent employee.

Nedbank, Standard Bank, FNB, and ABSA.

Application needs to be made through your main banking partner.

Business Partners (Rupert Family) – Sukuma Relief Programme
Criteria Benefits How to apply
Loan, repayable over five years.

First year, no interest or instalments. Thereafter standard commercial terms.

The business must show that it was affected by the COVID-19 disaster resulting in a decline in revenues, while still having to pay overheads such as salaries and rent.

Need to meet the following criteria:

  • South African owned
  • SME
  • Tax compliant
  • Have annual financial statements
  • A three-month bank statement
  • Proof of the employment of employees
  • Rent statement
  • Supporting documentation showing how the business is in distress as a result of COVID-19
  • The funds would also be available to sole proprietors which most other funding does not include
Grants of R25,000.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) may apply for R250,000 – R1 million in funding.

The application process started via an online portal on the Business Partners website.
ABSA Debt Relief
Criteria Benefits How to apply
Customers in good standing (with up-to-date accounts), and who have been financially impacted by the pandemic will have the opportunity to opt-in for payment relief, aimed at assisting with cash flow needs.

Eligible customers in need of short-term liquidity relief will qualify for the relief programme that applies to Absa’s credit products.

These relief measures apply to Absa’s corporate, wealth, business bank, private bank and retail customers.

Support for corporate and business banking clients will entail solutions based on their unique requirements and operations.

Three-month payment relief and allows customers in need of short-term financial relief to reduce their monthly instalments.

Give customers the opportunity to either continue paying if they are in a position to, to pay reduced instalments by agreement with the bank, or to defer payments for a period of three months.

Relevant agreements will be adjusted by revising the loan period and capitalising interest during the relief period. No additional administration fees.

Absa will approach qualifying customers directly to discuss their payment relief options and trigger this, should they choose to opt-in to this relief scheme.

You do not need to contact Absa to arrange this relief. Businesses and corporates are encouraged to contact their relationship managers for further details.

FNB Debt Relief
Criteria Benefits How to apply
Interventions will assist customers who demonstrate sound banking behaviour, such as having honoured their repayments to the bank on a consistent basis prior to COVID-19. Interventions will be for all products available for three months and cover the following:

Instalment cashflow relief, during which part or no instalments/repayments will be due for a specific period;

A preferential interest rate will apply to the COVID19 relief interventions given;

No fees will be charged for any relief granted;

Assistance with processing credit insurance claims, where possible;

Individualized bridge facilities for those who need it. Interest and fees will continue to accumulate on outstanding balances.

Individuals: Go to FNB banking app and follow procedure.

Employed people need a confirmation letter confirming loss of income from employer.

Self Employed: Financial statements with relevant info indicating loss.

Business: Under R20 million mostly addressed. Other businesses will be assessed individually.

Contact via secure chat or 0877 FNB 247 from 08:00 to 20:00, Monday to Sunday or go to branch.

Nedbank Debt Relief
Criteria Benefits How to apply
All individual and business clients, with existing loan agreements, and who are in good standing. Applies to home loans, vehicle and asset finance, NedBonds, and term loans. Payment Holiday: You can delay your loan repayments through a three-month payment holiday

Monthly credit card repayments: Your monthly minimum repayment has been reduced from 5% to 2,5% of your outstanding balance, with immediate effect.

SASWITCH fees: Effective 28 March, you can withdraw cash from any bank’s ATM without being charged the additional SASWITCH fee. Please note that normal withdrawal fees, if applicable, will still apply.

Penalty fees on early investment withdrawals: For clients wishing to access fixed-term or notice investments, the early release penalty fee will be waived.

Payment Holiday: Applications will be assessed case-by-case. Speak to a relationship banker.

No specific relief policies for businesses or customer are currently in place. Customers are encouraged to contact the bank directly if they are in financial distress due to COVID-19. Call 086 055 5111.

Customers who need payment relief should call the dedicated debt relief centre on 0860 110 702 and home-owners who need help can also email [email protected] or [email protected]

Applications will be processed from 3 April 2020. More detailed information, including the application forms and supporting document requirements will be published over the coming days. All applications must be emailed to the dedicated mailbox [email protected]

Standard Bank Debt Relief
Criteria Benefits How to apply
South African business, with a turnover of less than R20 million per annum.

Business Current account, Bizlaunch account, and Business Lending accounts are paid up to date.

Business is in good standing.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Payment Scheme, which will provide loan instalment relief for 90 days. This scheme will launch on the 1st of April and strives to support small- and medium-sized business with a payment holiday for 90 days. This offer will be automatically applied, however, should you wish to opt-out of the instalment relief, pay your loan instalment or email [email protected]
SMME Relief Finance Scheme
Criteria Benefits How to apply
There are 3 categories of finance:

  • Business Growth
  • Resilience Facility
  • Debt Relief Finance

The business must have been registered with CIPC by at least 28 February 2020;

Company must be 100% owned by South African citizens;

Employees must be 70% South Africans;

Priority will be given to businesses owned by Women, Youth, and People with Disabilities;

Be registered and compliant with SARS and UIF;

Based on the needs of your business, if you are eligible you will be able to apply for working capital (inventory, order, cashflow) and/or equipment finance.

You will be able to apply for financing at an interest rate of prime minus 5%. This would mean an interest rate of 3.75% per year.

If you are approved, you will be given a payment holiday and have your loans restructured. How this will look is still to be confirmed by the department.

At this stage, the amounts to be applied for are still to be confirmed. There are still engagements in place with the minister and president and business representatives. However, the department is accepting applications.

SEDA will assist micro-enterprises to comply and request for assistance must be emailed to [email protected];

Whereas small and medium enterprises must ensure own compliance;

A) Registration on the National SMME Database – https://smmesa.gov.za. The following documents will be required during the application process:

B) Proof that the business is negatively affected by COVID-19 pandemic;

C)Complete the simplified online application platform;

D) Company Statutory Documents;

E) FICA documents (e.g. Municipal accounts, letter from traditional authority);

F) Certified ID Copies of Directors; 3 months Bank Statements;

G) Latest Annual Financial Statements or Latest Management Accounts not older than three months from date of application – where applicable;

H) Business Profile;

I) 6 months Cash Flow Projections – where applicable;

J) Copy of lease agreement or proof ownership if applying for rental relief;

K) If applying for payroll relief, details of employees – as registered with UIF and including banking details – will be required as payroll payments will be made directly to employees;

L) SMME employers who are not compliant with UIF must register before applying for relief;

M) Facility Statements of Other Funders;

N). Detail breakdown on application of funds including salaries, rent etc.

Application Process

a. Register on https://smmesa.gov.za/;

b. Complete online Application Form;

c. Upload Required Supporting Documents [email protected]/ [email protected]| 0860 663 7867 or 0860 ONE STOP The process and payout timelines have been detailed as:

  • seven working days to process an SMME’s application for funds for debt relief and if approved
  • it would take a further five working days to disburse funds to SMMEs for debt relief

Currently accepting registrations at www.smmesa.gov.za

Tourism Relief Funding
Criteria Benefits How to apply
SMMEs in all the nine provinces and various tourism sub-sectors. There will be a degree of bias towards rural areas, townships, women, young people, and people with disabilities.

In line with amended codes on BBB-EE, the following categories will apply:

  • Accommodation: Hotels; Resort properties and Bed and Breakfast (B&B’s)
  • Hospitality and Related Services: Restaurants (not attached to hotels); Conference (not attached to hotels), Professional catering; Attractions
  • Travel and Related Services: Tour operators; Travel agents; Tourist guides; Car rental companies; and Coach Operators.

There will also be an equitable balance between businesses that are in the tourism incentive programme of the Department of Tourism and businesses that are not benefiting from such programmes through a transparent application process, and the criteria outlined above.

R200 million available to assist SMMEs in the tourism and hospitality sector who are under stress due to the new travel restrictions. Current Status: Developing a call centre to handle enquiries.

Will need the following proof:

  • Formally registered business with Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC);
  • Turnover must not exceed R2.5 million per year;
  • Must have a valid tax clearance certificate. Guaranteed employment for a minimum number of staff for a period of 3 months;
  • Proof of minimum wage compliance;
  • Must provide proof of UIF registration for employees employed by the business;
  • Be an existing tourism-specific establishment as outline in the scope of application (suppliers and intermediaries are not eligible);
  • Must be in existence for at least one business financial year;
  • Prove that the relief is required as a result of the impact of COVID-19;
  • Must submit statements of financial position; over 12 months’ bank statement, balance sheet, income statements, cash flow statements;
  • Indicate the intended use of the resources.
IDC Initiative
Criteria Benefits How to apply
The IDC has various initiatives referring mostly to existing IDC funded businesses. Various Businesses must contact them through normal channels.
The Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (TERS)
Criteria Benefits How to apply
This will be applicable to your company if you have the following:

  •  registered with UIF
  •  compliant with the relevant UIF legislation, and
  • making your required monthly contributions

Should your business not be compliant, you will be able to undertake to pay outstanding contributions and bring your required declarations up to date within a stipulated timeframe.

TERS is an intervention which allows employers to pay staff directly during the COVID-19 pandemic and avoid retrenching any of your staff members. Employees will receive a wage payment through TERS. In terms of the TERS process, the UIF may fund your company if you are affected by COVID-19 directly in relation to the TERS allowance. If this is an opportunity your business can benefit from, email [email protected], for more information.

You will receive an automated response outlining the procedure and information you will require.

National Empowerment  Fund (NEF)
Criteria Benefits How to apply
Be a registered legal entity in South Africa in terms of the Companies Act, 2008 (as amended); the Close Corporations Act, 1984; or the Co-operatives Act, 2005.

Be a taxpayer in good standing with a valid tax clearance certificate at assessment as well as before the loan is disbursed.

Be a current and registered supplier with retailers and other institutions in good standing or have a purchase order/ contract/ letter of intent.

Require working capital or funds to purchase machinery and equipment.

The fund will not service any pre-existing debt or help settle monies owed.

Have greater than 50% black shareholding and management control. Must be directly involved in the day-to-day running of the operation and must have requisite expertise in the sector. Owned by black South Africans as defined by the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Act.

In line with the NEF’s transformation mandate, preference will be given to applications that demonstrate meaningful black women ownership, management and control.

Have a project with a minimum requirement of R500,000 in working capital, machinery, and equipment.

Must result in retaining or increasing direct jobs.

Submission of all relevant documents for commercially viable applications.

R200 million funding has been made available for black entrepreneurs to manufacture and supply a range of medical products to help the country flatten the curve of COVID-19.

  • Limited to R10 million per applicant for working capital, machinery, and equipment;
  • Up to 12 months payment moratorium at 0% fixed interest rate;
  • After 12 months a fixed interest rate of 2,5% will apply;
  • Maximum term is 60 months, including moratorium; and
  • First drawdown must occur within 1 month from approval date
The NEF will administer this. To apply for this funding, click here

Now read: Tool to help South African businesses find support

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Where South Africans can find financial support if they are struggling