Financial institution Absa has partnered with the South African Future Trust (SAFT) to administer the disbursement of funds to small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) whose income will be impacted on in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a sign of support, Absa, alongside three other South African banks, will take responsibility for administering the scheme, which targets SMMEs in Gauteng.
SMME clients of these banks will be invited to apply for the support from the SAFT from April 3.
Absa Retail and Business Bank deputy CE Bongiwe Gangeni says Absa SMME clients with a turnover of less than R25-million a year, in good health, but with short-term cash flow constraints owing to Covid-19 and who have been trading for at least two years, will be eligible.
Sectors that have been critically impacted by Covid-19 will be invited first. These include tourism, restaurants, events, catering, accommodation and shuttle services.
These businesses will be able to apply for a five-year interest-free loan from SAFT to give their employees a lifeline to buy the essentials they need to survive through the crisis.
“Keeping people employed through this crisis has to be a priority for all of us. Absa is committed to doing what it can to mitigate the devastating socioeconomic impact of this disease,” Gangeni says.
In the long run, any funds donated to the structure will be redeployed towards accelerating economic growth and employment creation in South Africa.
The announcement follows after Absa announced an initial donation of R15-million towards the national effort to combat Covid-19 and its impact, earlier this week.
The SAFT was established by Nicky and Jonathan Oppenheimer, who pledged R1-billion to mitigate the economic effects of the Covid-19 crisis by protecting jobs during this time.
This followed after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a lockdown period of 21 days in South Africa - “a vital and necessary effort to curb the spread of the disease, but one that will have a profound impact on many businesses”.