The Gauteng Economic Development Department is lobbying for R500-million to help resuscitate the province’s economy through SMMEs.
While the extent of the damage caused by recent lootings of businesses is still being compiled, the province’s small businesses are in deeper trouble following more than a week of civil unrest.
According Loyiso Jantjies, who is the spokesperson of MEC Parks Tau, the province had been allocated R250-million to help rebuild the sector following the negative impacts of the lockdowns.
However, he told Vutivi News this amount would now have to be doubled.
The majority of SMMEs are in Gauteng (34%), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (16%) and the Western Cape (11%).
DA Member of the Provincial Legislature, Makashule Gana, has called on the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller, which promotes, fosters and develops small businesses, to start releasing the initial R250-million to help SMMEs.
“Township economies have suffered a near-fatal blow from the looting and destruction of property,” he said.
“Almost all jobs lost from targeted malls employed residents in affected townships. So many more households are set to face hard times ahead, wondering how they will get food onto the table.”
Gana said that the R250-million would go a long way in helping small businesses get back on their feet.
Jantjies explained that the funds had not yet been released largely due to regulation hindrances related to lending money to businesses in need.
“We were asked by The Treasury what are the risks involved in getting it back, or (how) the mandate of this money will reduce the risks,” he said.
“We had to re-engineer our thoughts. We started to have conversations with other private entities that are in the SMME sector, trying to increase the R250-million which we saw was not enough.”
Jantjies told Vutivi News that there were some programmes the department would start implementing to revive the economy through SMMEs.
One of them included focusing on township real estate.
“Township accommodation, which in the past have been known as ‘backrooms’, have been modernised and completely upgraded to the extent that you have flats as accommodation in someone’s backyard,” the spokesperson said.
“We are looking at working with some of the real estate agencies in the township real estate sector. We are also looking at the option of directly dealing with residents where, for example, if someone has space in their backyard, they can negotiate with us, build rooms and have a contract with us where they will be leasing them our behalf for a fee from us.
“But we need the money… so this half a billion will be meant to make an impact on the industry,” he also said. The department has tasked officials to interact with businesses to get an accurate picture on the extent of the damages and where funding is urgently needed.