The Steve Tshwete Local Municipality in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, and the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) have set aside R50 million to uplift small businesses that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is aimed at preventing some of the black-owned businesses from shutting down, due to restrictions brought by the lockdown.
Businesses across the country especially in the townships had to shut down due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Some businesses are compelled to close or reduce staff members. However, Government is making strides to assist.
Charles Masombuka who runs a construction company in Middelburg is amongst the beneficiaries. Masombuka says now the business stands a good chance for revival.
“I believe the fund will definitely assist us through funds, it won’t be sufficient but the number that will be absorbed will definitely make a difference. Obviously, I was severely affected, we had to lay some of our employees and we could not function properly as we used to function, we could not services our debts as per normal.”
A 33-year-old farmer, Khulile Mahlalela who specialises in pig farming in the outskirts of Middelburg says the COVID-19 outbreak brought many challenges.
“COVID-19 affected my business, the piggery sector because the kilo in the market dropped and the feed increases so it was little hard to maintain the business, so from 30 souses I had to minimize to ten souses then I changed instead of selling the poppers I decided to sell the winners.”
The Steve Tshwete local municipality contributed R20 million. The National Empowerment Fund committed R30 million towards this initiative. Steve Tshwete Municipal Manager Bheki Khenisa says the funding is benefitting qualifying small businesses and it also goes out as a loan with low interests.
“The NEF is going to give us R30 million, the Steve Tshwete is going to give R20 million the whole amount will be R50 million which is a loan but how the loans work from Steve Tshwete part it would be reduced in terms of interest rate because our interest rates maximum is 5% so the other interest rates will be calculated by the NEF, but the good thing is that the NEF will also look in terms of how many jobs creates and how many black-owned people are going to be participating and how many women black-owned women companies are going to be participating so all of those will assist in reducing the cost.”
Steve Tshwete local municipality will scrutinize all companies that apply for assistance and qualifying companies will then be selected to get funding.
Most small businesses in SA face an uncertain future due to the impact of COVID-19:
Source: SABC News (sabcnews.com)