The National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) said on Thursday that president Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement that the country could move from a level 4 to level 3 Covid-19 lockdown by the end of May had come "too little, too late" for small business owners.
Ramaphosa made the statement on Wednesday night, but said, among other things, that areas experiencing hotspots were unlikely to change levels.
"The latest announcements were too little, too late for many small businesses. A continued lockdown with no end in sight is not in the best interests of the small business sector and the economy. Small businesses need more direction and assurance so that they can plan and prepare," said NSBC founder and CEO, Mike Anderson.
He said Cape Town and Johannesburg, which were the two dominant areas for small businesses, were firmly in the Covid-19 red zones, meaning uncertainly remained for business owners.
“Small businesses are vital economic engines. A flourishing small business sector is the future of job creation. We have to ensure that we bridge businesses through these trying times. Our goal is to make sure businesses stay in business and that we keep workers employed," he said.
The recently launched Covid-19 Small Business Relief and Recovery Centre, powered by the NSBC, intended to help small businesses by "doing whatever we can to take their pain away during this crisis and then to bring them back way after the pandemic has subsided", said Anderson. But the virus subsiding could be years away, he added.
“Our plea to the mercurial job creators within the small business sector throughout the nation is to hang in there. You are resilient and courageous and you must believe that you will triumph and come out stronger. Now is the time to stay calm, be positive, adapt, learn new things and try new things.
"Like Winston Churchill said, 'If you are going through hell, keep going', so don’t give-up, you will be OK. The NSBC will keep fighting the good fight to get you back into business and help you to prosper; we ask you to keep fighting too," said Anderson.
Information on the Covid-19 Small Business Relief Centre can be found at www.nsbc.africa/COVID-19. The centre can also be emailed via firstname.lastname@example.org.