Findings from the Covid-19 National Small Business Survey, which was conducted after the Level 5 lockdown was eased to Level 4, point to continued stress experienced by small businesses coming out of Level 5 of the lockdown.
The survey, which was released by the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC), canvassed thousands of small businesses throughout the country, providing insights into the catastrophic effects of the Level 5 lockdown period, which was enforced to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the NSBC notes that the deep challenges are expected to worsen until the lockdown reaches Level 2 or lower, when most small businesses will get back to some form of normality.
Only 8.5% of small businesses are back to normal at Level 4 and more than 75% will only be back to normal at Level 2 and Level 1, the most being at Level 1.
NSBC founder and CEO Mike Anderson says one of the disturbing challenges facing small businesses is the inability for them to access relief-funding.
“The survey revealed that of the 53% of small businesses that applied for relief funding, only 6% of the applicants received funding.” Reasons cited for this range from poor or no response, unnecessary qualifying criteria and a lengthy and tedious processes.
Ninety-four per cent of small businesses stated that they are either now in a cash flow crisis or will be within the next 30 days.
“Government urgently needs to remove all the red tape and speed up the relief-funding processes and make this funding available to all small businesses throughout the nation,” he states.
Further “disturbing insights” from the survey are that 63% of small businesses have already laid of some workers or expect to lay off workers within the next 30 days, says Anderson.
Seventy-nine per cent of businesses surveyed expect not to survive the pandemic or are unsure if they will survive.
The NSBC also notes that its Covid-19 Small Business Relief Centre was recently launched to assist small businesses during this crisis. With the collaboration of experts in various business fields, this centre hopes to help small businesses weather the current coronavirus storm successfully.
“Our plea to government is to communicate more effectively, eliminate all confusion and bring detailed clarity of how and when small businesses can get back to business,” he suggests, adding that government also needs to fine-tune and speed up the relief funding processes and make this funding available to all small businesses throughout the nation.