The Minister of Small Business Development, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, recently announced several relief mechanisms to aid businesses adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent national lockdown. In an effort to alleviate the economic effects of the 21-day lockdown, the Department has introduced a Business Growth/Resilience Facility and a Debt Relief Finance Scheme.

The Business Growth/Resilience Facility is designed for Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) that are involved in the local manufacture and/or supply of goods in critical sectors, such as those goods aimed at combatting the spread of the coronavirus. Medical and hygiene products are in demand as a result of the shortages which have arisen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Minister Ntshavheni, the Facility will provide working capital, stock, and bridging, order and equipment finance in order to ensure that these SMMEs may continue to operate in supply value-chains.

The Debt Relief Finance Scheme or Fund is geared towards assisting SMMEs whose operations have been directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with their existing debts and repayments. In addition, the Scheme will aid businesses with the acquisition of raw materials, the payment of labour and other operational costs.

Businesses wishing to apply for government assistance must register on the Department’s newly created portal at https://smmesa.gov.za/ and complete the online application form. Only those SMMEs that are registered on the database will be considered.

In order to qualify for financial or non-financial assistance (or both) in terms of these relief mechanisms, businesses must meet a range of criteria. Significantly, businesses must be 100% owned by South African citizens; 70% of the business’s employees must be South African; and the business must be registered and compliant with SARS and the UIF.

The full list of qualifying criteria for the Business Growth/Resilience Facility and Debt Relief Finance Scheme can be found at the following links respectively:
http://www.dsbd.gov.za/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SMME-Business-Growth-Resilience-Facility.pdf
http://www.dsbd.gov.za/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SMME-Debt-Relief-Scheme-1.pdf