Small businesses are doubtful that the Tourism Equity Fund will help them, following billions being looted from state coffers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
But Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has promised that her department will be transparent on how money from the fund is spent.
She told Vutivi News that the fund was set up following the release of a report from the Tourism Charter Council.
“In that report, they indicated that many SMMEs and people from previously disadvantaged backgrounds are battling to access or to make inroads in the tourism space, and it was discovered that one of the inhibitors was access to funding,” she said.
Kubayi-Ngubane said the fund would transform the tourism sector by grooming more entrepreneurs from previously disadvantaged backgrounds, black participants, women and youth.
“The fund will enable entrepreneurs to buy shares into companies such as lodges, hotels, tour operators and other tourism-related companies,” she said.
On the transparency of the fund, the minister said she was confident about the department’s relationship with the Small Enterprise Development Agency.
“We are aware of SEFA’s track record of working with previously disadvantaged communities because they understand the risk that is associated with such an undertaking.”
Kubayi-Ngubane also reiterated that her department was the first to release the names of beneficiaries of its relief fund.
“There are concerns from people who say that funds are always released but are not spent. We will ensure that there is monthly reporting to the minister’s office, how much has been dispersed, and to whom,” she said.
“We will also do a review at the end of February see how many have applied, how many have been approved and what the difficulties are so that we continue to improve. We want to ensure that all the forms and the required documents are there, so that the turnaround time is rapid.”
She said SEFA and the Minister of Small Business were committed to oversight of the fund to ensure that it worked.
“As the department, we have seconded two people to sit in the Executive Council so that they can ensure that people are not rejected unnecessarily during the stage of processing the application documents,” she said.
On the alcohol ban, the minister said its impact had been “quite substantive” and had affected all subsectors.
“The SMMEs will be harder hit, as the liquor ban especially affects hotels. Some of the hotels are finding it difficult to operate without the sale of alcohol, and we are aware and do note the impact of many of our establishments being unable to survive due to the Covid-19 regulations,” she said.
But Kubayi-Ngubane said there had to be a balance between saving lives and saving livelihoods.
Vutivi is a digital business news platform that will serve the Small Medium Micro Enterprises in the form of writing stories that will be informative about their sector. We pledge to deliver a commercially sustainable, world-class digital financial and business news service that is a must-read while being responsive to readership needs and tailor-making packages for SMMEs.