SMME, informal sector relief interventions unveiled

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Government has unveiled wide-ranging financing interventions for COVID-19-hit Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) and businesses in the informal sectors.

The interventions, including a Debt Relief Financing Scheme and Growth Resilience Facility for SMMEs, were unveiled by Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni during a social cluster media briefing on Tuesday,  

The qualification criteria have been developed and will be available for online applications from 2 April 2020. For now, applications can be made manually.

Those who have registered on the SMMESA database will receive a reference number by tomorrow to apply, the Minister said.

She said the turnaround time for applications and approval will be seven days at worst, while approval and disbursement of funds is expected to take five days.

On Friday, the SEFA will approve the rescheduling of the loan repayments for six months to the value of R350 million to 250 clients.

The Minister also released support packages for those in the informal sector.

These include the spaza shop support scheme, which will also open on 2 April. The spaza shop support will include dedicated networking, purchase power and bulk purchasing through pre-selected and pre-approved wholesalers. These will include buying a pre-approved basket of goods that includes produce procured from SMMEs.

“The scheme to will also seek a credit facility with seed capital as some spaza shop owners are unable to access money to purchase stock,” she said.

This will be followed by a credit facility to enable spaza shop owners to continuously buy even after the COVID-19 outbreak is over.

“We are also supporting them with business management support because we know that there are problems in spaza shops running their businesses to be profitable,” she said.

The assistance will also cover training in bookkeeping, customer services skills, stock-taking control and purchases as well as the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The Minister said the department was also facilitating access to basic business tools such as instant payment machines, speed points and other vending facilities.

To get access to the interventions, interested parties in the sector will have to provide compliance documents. Applicants will also need Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), South Africa Revenue Services (SARS) and Unemployed Insurance Fund (UIF) registrations.  

“We are going to facilitate the licensing of owner-operated spaza shops where they are not licensed… We also assist spaza shop owners open business accounts,” the Minister said.

Additionally, the spaza shops must be owner-managed and operated.

“They must provide proof of banking and must be registered on SMMESA. Spaza’s must have a permit to trade and municipalities are ready to assist with this,” she said. –