In the darkness of COVID-19; there is some light for SMME’s

Updated: Apr 30, 2020

It's no secret that the lockdown has brought further burden to small, medium, and micro enterprises countrywide. Regardless of industry, this pandemic has affected actual purchasing power, the psychology around buying and the means of purchase and service.

Many SMME’s are finding it hard to break even, some have already closed their doors long before the second week of the lockdown. Since the extension of the lockdown, all South Africans are in anticipation of the days to come after 30 April 2020. Businesses are challenged with entrepreneurial control as the markets not only change but move altogether! Small businesses now need to adapt and empower themselves in every way possible.

Lets look at a few continuation options during this period:

Government assistance and funding

Payroll Support:

UIF Covid-19 TERS National Disaster Fund

Employers who are unable to pay the full salaries of workers during the lockdown period can apply for the Covid19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (Covid19TERS). The UIF has set aside R40 billion to help employees unable to work and prevent job losses as a result of the lockdown. So far R356 million has been paid out.

Whether you are unable to pay all salaries or only part salaries, you are eligible to claim from the UIF Covid19 TERS Fund if your employees were registered and contributing to UIF on 1 March 2020.

Logon to the Application System here to register as an employer with your UIF Employer Reference Number, and then register your eligible employees to submit a claim.  Alternatively, contact Liedon to prepare and submit your claim for you.

SA Future Trust (SAFT) Fund

Nicky Oppenheimer has donated an amount of R1 billion which is available for application from the 4 major banks. This is an interest free loan application repayable over 5 years. If your business’s annual turnover is below R25 million you may be eligible. You will need to contact your bank for more information. This is a loan only to assist you to pay salaries to your employees, and the money is paid directly to the employee.

Business Continuity:

Debt Relief Fund *

If your business has been hit hard by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and you are unable to pay your debt, the SA government will service your debt. To qualify you will need to prove a direct link between your inability to service your business loan/s and the impact or potential impact that the coronavirus outbreak has on business operations.

Business Growth/Resilience Facility *

This has been specifically created to enable continued participation of SMMEs in supply value-chains – particularly those small businesses which manufacture locally or supply items which are in demand due to the pandemic. This facility will offer working capital, stock, bridging finance, order finance and equipment finance, and the amount provided will be based on the funding needs of the business.

* You may apply for either the Debt Relief Fund or the Business Growth/Resilience Facility. These guideline documents detail the exact criteria and process:

Debt Relief Fund

Business Growth/Resilience Facility

Use this application form for submission.

Liedon would like to extend a free consult and provide guidance on any of the above funding programs, if required. Contact us today: Tel: (043) 726 3673 Email:

Business versus personal mindset

Copious debt, uncertain markets, shifting rules and territory can lead to anxiety and fear. This is a good time to think about why your business may still have a place in the market. Try to compare reasons for starting your business with the current situation needs and possible future ones. Do not make hasty decisions as the entire world is in the unknown and in order to make an informed decision you will need some patience to gather realistic and relevant information. Don’t easily give up on what you risked everything to build. In a time like this and long after, this country will need determined and objective entrepreneurs. Be rational in your business management approach and possibilities for employees. There are many options around and one can easily be pushed into making decisions that seem to be trending.

How can my business remain competitive?

1. Develop your online presence

Building a website and doing business development online through email and social media is now more critical than ever before. Use this time to your advantage to reach current and new customers.

Work on a short term plan to alleviate current pressure and channel this via an online platform. During the lockdown period, customers are using social media to access information, be entertained and as a distraction. At this point they may not be aggressively buying. However, they are using this time to research and gather information for possible future purchases. Your brand needs to be a part of the those platforms and joining in on the conversations.

2. Seek consultation

The bottom line is that now is the time to save on monthly expenses. If you need to make sure that your accounting records are up to date to allow you to be eligible for debt relief or additional finance; now is a good time to do it. If you are seeking advise in a particular business area that is not your strong suit, don't be afraid to ask those you trust. Seek the consultation you need. Times like this will often have people willing to share their expertise to help their fellow man.

3. Stay Educated

Level up on your skills. You can take online courses. Or join business forums to keep abreast of changes to your industry. This also creates great networking opportunities with potential customers and future partners.

4. Renegotiate Terms

This is the best time to renegotiate terms with your business circle.Talk to your banker about more flexible payment terms, talk to your suppliers, talk to your landlord about your rental agreement, talk to your employees about flexible working times. Everything may feel like it’s spinning out of control; But you can still take action to get yourself through the tunnel and into the light.

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