The Covid Business Rescue Assistance (Cobra) initiative has been engaged by the Independent Community Pharmacy Association (ICPA) to help with the identification of funders and the disbursement of donor funding to help rebuild and repair independent pharmacies affected by the unrest in July.
The historic disbursement of millions of rands of donations will be made to independent pharmacies that were damaged or destroyed by the waves of looting and violence in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng recently, says Cobra CEO Adam Craker.
“The ICPA has embarked on a mammoth fundraising effort, with the aim of raising in excess of R20-million to help its member pharmacies repair, rebuild and restock.
"To date, the ICPA has raised almost R8-million through generous donations from Aspen Pharmacare, Zydus Healthcare, Adcock Ingram, Bidvest, Discovery, Austell Pharmaceuticals and Transpharm, among others.”
In addition to these financial contributions, Cobra will provide additional business support and assistance the 84 affected pharmacies may require, through the 100 partner organisations collaborating within the Cobra ecosystem. These include management consultants, lawyers, financial advisers and information technology experts, Craker says.
“The communities that rely on independent pharmacies across KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Mpumalanga for their life-saving medication and primary healthcare needs require immediate funding help and we have the network and expertise to facilitate this as soon as possible for the ICPA,” he notes.
Through the ICPA, Cobra can report that pharmacies as far out as Ixopo, Esikhawini, Nongoma, Dalton, Umlazi, Umkomaas and Empangeni have applied for assistance to rebuild or restock their outlets. This will be a crucial undertaking to ensure medicine remains accessible to South Africans living across KwaZulu-Natal’s rural areas.
“We are experiencing a significant surge in requests for assistance by distressed businesses in both the informal and formal sectors. The impact of the cycle of looting and crime on so many businesses has been catastrophic,” he adds.
The latest estimates from the South African Property Owner’s Association indicate that over 3 000 stores were looted in July, with more than 40 000 businesses reeling from the impact of the destruction that took place without discretion. This has been followed by the recent announcement that South Africa’s business confidence index has fallen by three points, down to 93.2, its lowest level since October last year.
“These insights have been curated by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, that has also shared that business confidence is a necessary ingredient for investment, which is needed to boost growth and create jobs in an inclusive manner. Conservative estimates currently indicate that the looting resulted in a R70-billion loss to our economy,” Craker adds.
Further, to alleviate the recent decline in business confidence, which might compound investor confidence over the long-term, Cobra has taken a proactive step to help rebuild what was destroyed, by opening a dedicated wing to help business owners and employers with immediate business needs as they count the cost of the recent violence.
This includes relevant webinars and access to business rescue services, as well as legal, technological and psychosocial advice. It will also link business owners with experts on the insurance claim process, as well as access to emergency funding, he highlights.
The Cobra resources have been prepared digitally and can be accessed by any business, anywhere. This digitised information will benefit businesses with the efficiency tools they need to drive innovation and fuel job opportunities and economic growth.
“Cobra invites all businesses who were in any way affected by the civil unrest to reach out. We can help,” says Cobra COO Bob Grewar.
The full scope of services includes legal advice regarding any loss or damage to assets, assistance with the provision of working capital, mediation services, mental health and psychosocial support, business rescue resources and liquidations and insolvencies.