The disruption brought on by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has left many small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) across the world uncertain about their future. Couple this with a low growth environment, South Africa entering a technical recession, and the country’s ratings downgrade to sub-investment grade by Moody’s on Friday, local SMEs have been dealt a particularly bad hand.
It is against this backdrop that President Ramaphosa’s announcement of R1 billion funding from the Rupert Family and Remgro Limited resulted in cautious hope amongst many SMEs across the country, who are now eager to learn how they can access the finance.
“We can confirm that Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS) – one of Africa’s leading risk finance companies for SMEs – has been selected as the Administrator of the R1 billion funding and are truly honoured to have been provided the opportunity to serve our country in this manner,” says Ben Bierman, Managing Director at BUSINESS/PARTNERS .
Bierman adds that the BUSINESS/PARTNERS team has been working around the clock to put guidelines and systems in place to ensure the funding reaches businesses that need it most.
BUSINESS/PARTNERS has extensive experience in managing and disbursing funds on scale, having financed over 71 000 SME transactions over its 39 years in operation. The company has previously managed funds for the South African Government as well international development finance institutions such as the International Finance Corporation (“IFC”) and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (“SECO”).
“We will have distinct and separate financing programmes available for both sole proprietors and formalised SMEs to ensure widespread support. We expect to make an announcement regarding the criteria, repayment terms and how to apply for the finance this week,” says Bierman.
“The unfortunate reality is that COVID-19 will lead to the demise of many SMEs across the world. We believe that through the funding made possible by the Rupert Family and Remgro Limited, together with other initiatives being implemented by both the public and private sector in South Africa, we can help sustain many of the affected businesses and protect jobs for years to come,” concludes Bierman.