Gcinokuhle Dube owns one of the 100 small businesses that received R30,000 from the eThekwini Metro to help revive their enterprises that have been decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic. His business, Loxtion Tours, forms part of the tourism sector which was mercilessly ravaged thanks in part to closed borders and constant lockdowns restricting interprovincial travel.
The grants are part of metro’s Covid-19 Economic Recovery Fund, which will eventually help 700 businesses. Dube told Vutivi News that when he started Loxtion Tours in 2017, he did this because of the rich history of his neighbourhood. “I live in Cato Manor in Durban South and it has a lot of history. It’s part of the place where a lot of people were moved during the implementation of the Group Areas Act during apartheid,” he said.
“A lot of people are not telling that story and growing up in this place and taking an interest in the community, I found that I was walking on gold.” Dube studied tourism and enterprise development and had many goals for his business. But those dreams were nearly dashed by the pandemic.
Dube said that when he applied for relief funding last year, he did not expect to receive anything. But a call from the metro surprised him and lifted his spirits. Dube said that he was lucky to be among those selected from 4000 applicants. “We applied last year, and we got it (on Monday) and being part of the 700 selected feels grateful,” he told Vutivi News.
Dube said he would use the cash to market his business in preparation for the December holiday. “Being under lockdown level two gives me an opportunity to market my business, which is service-based, in preparation for the festive season as this is a service-based company so my money needs to go to marketing,” he said. eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said that it was crucial that the city assisted businesses, especially the small business sector.
“We have the conviction that if we intervene in their plight, we’ll be able to sustain the collection of revenue if our businesses are operational. We understand the devastating effect of Covid-19 on small businesses, he said earlier this week. “Most of them were severely affected, so this intervention, as little as it may be, will make an impact in reviving their businesses, and also sustain the businesses so that they will be able to create more jobs out there.”
It is estimated that at least 72% of the country’s SMMEs are in financial distress, with KwaZulu-Natal among the hardest-hit provinces.