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Unrest: Lifeline thrown to rural, township entrepreneurs

Small-town, rural and township businesses directly affected by the unrest that engulfed parts of Mzansi in July, can now apply to get a slice of the R1.5 billion relief package made available by the department of trade, industry and competition. Separate allocations were also made for the agricultural sector.

Economic recovery support interventions announced by the minister of trade, industry and competition, Ebrahim Patel is open for applications from affected businesses. Photo: Supplied/Flickr

Small-town, rural and township businesses directly affected by the unrest that engulfed parts of Mzansi in July, can now get a slice of the R1.5 billion relief package made available by the department of trade, industry and competition (the DTIC).

As announced by minister Ebrahim Patel a fortnight ago, the relief package forms part of government’s bigger economic rebuilding package to the value of R3.75 billion.

The DTIC and its development finance institutions, which includes the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), collectively put together the funding package in support of various business recovery interventions.

Patel explained that it was for the restoration of businesses adversely affected during the violent looting and unrests that took place in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng last month.

Eligibility criteria

Trade, industry, and competition minister Ebrahim Patel. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

According to the DTIC’s director for media relations, Bongani Lukhele, the relief package includes a matching grant facility to the tune of R100 million to support small and informal businesses in the townships, rural areas and small towns.

“The fund has been designed to target the socio-economic challenges faced by these businesses as a result of the recent unrest,” Lukhele explains.

Furthermore, the DTIC states that the grant facility will be distributed primarily through strategic implementing partners (SIPs) up to a maximum of R10 million per SIP.

According to the IDC the eligibility criteria for beneficiaries include businesses that were directly affected by the unrest.

Furthermore, formal and informal traders, social businesses, small retailers and manufacturing businesses also qualify for the relief package. Both uninsured and under-insured businesses may apply.

Only South African-owned businesses, or those owners with valid residential permits, based in KwaZulu-Natal or Gauteng will be considered.

Business registration, business licences, valid municipal permits or other forms of verification of operation prior to unrest must be made available. Also, businesses need to show that they were in operation as of 30 June 2021.

Separate allocation for agriculture

In addition to this, part of the IDC’s tailored and comprehensive package includes a R1.4 billion post-unrest business recovery fund. This will assist businesses that operate in sectors the IDC funds, which in turn include agro-processing and agriculture.

IDC chief executive officer TP Nchocho. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

A further R10 million CSI allocation has been made available to support food security and recovery efforts in affected communities. The funding is expected to cater for school infrastructure rebuilding and support for care facilities and clinics.

“We will focus mainly on rural, outlying and less-developed areas that now face increased vulnerability [and] will be working with established NGO partners to ensure reach and impact,” the IDC says.

In addition, the IDC will be administering (the DTIC’s) manufacturing competitiveness enhancement programme (MCEP) economic stabilisation fund of R400 million.

The fund promises to support manufacturing companies affected by the unrest, including those impacted by associated supply chain disruptions. The fund plans to offer interest-free loans to affected companies to ensure significant development impact.

Click here to apply for support from the unrest business recovery fund. For more information on the various interventions under the economic rebuilding package contact the DTIC at recovery@thedtic.gov.za or 0800 006 543, or the IDC at Recovery@idc.co.za or 011 269 3111.

ALSO READ: KZN unrest: Is R1.1bn really needed to assist farmers?

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