The first window of the Department of Small Business Development's (DSBD's) Small, Medium-sized and Microenterprise (SMME) Debt Relief Financing Scheme will close soon.
The scheme was initially allocated an amount of R200-million, which was later increased to R500-million, when the department changed its approach to the Business Growth and Resilience Facility.
The aim of the scheme was to assist SMMEs with working capital during the period when economic activity was negatively affected owing to the Covid-19 national disaster.
There were three elements of working capital covered through the scheme.
Firstly, there was payroll assistance, which assists employers whose employees do not qualify for Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Relief, on condition that those employers register their employees with UIF.
Secondly, there was rental assistance (facility or equipment), which assists businesses to pay their rental obligations for either working tools or facilities and business premises.
Thirdly, there was a utilities element, to assist with municipal bills.
Since the opening of the scheme, the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa) has received 35 865 applications, of which 14 451 were fully completed, while 21 414 were incomplete and they referred to the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) to assist the applications.
Of the 14 451 complete applications, Sefa has approved 1 497 applications, with funding valued at R513-million made available.
According to the Sefa assessment, the balance of the 12 954 complete applications require an estimated budget of R4.4-billion, but a bulk of the applications require assistance with payment of salaries to the total value of R3.6-billion.
In this regard, the DSBD has entered into agreement with the UIF to ensure that SMMEs that previously did not qualify owing to noncompliance can be covered by the UIF provided they agree to an acknowledgement of debt as well as payment terms with the UIF.
Moreover, this agreement ensures that SMMEs that had already applied for payroll assistance through the SMME Debt Relief Finance Scheme do not need to re-apply with the UIF, but their applications will be forwarded directly to the UIF.
Further, the assessment has also indicated that applications for a total value of R800-million are from businesses that, if supported to get back to work, will be able to meet their own financial obligations.
The DSBD will begin direct engagements with these SMMEs to ensure dedicated support for these enterprises to go back to business, as President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the gradual reopening of the economy and the movement to Level 3.
The DBSD will continue to engage with the National Treasury on this funding gap that is still required to fund those who have already applied.
The DSBD will shortly communicate the schemes to support small businesses that are going back to business and an assessment will begin with the ones that have already applied for relief, except on the scheme targeted for informal and micro-businesses.
It is with these arrangements in place that the DSBD has announced the closure of the first window of the SMME Debt Relief Financing Scheme with effect from May 23.
The DSBD will publish the names of the SMMEs funded during this window on all its websites as from May 29, and the demographic spread include rand values per demographic spread.