Informal businesses seek support to help with Covid-19 fallout

Informal businesses want a grant from Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana — who will table his budget next week — to help them build back from the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The only relief that informal traders have received since the advent of the health crisis was when the department of small business development and Nedbank collaborated in 2020 to help 40 000 businesses restart. An amount of R40-million saw qualifying traders receive loans and grants of R1 000 each, which they say is not enough.

The initiative fell within the department’s township and rural enterprises programme, consisted of partly grants and partly loans, and is not sufficient, according to Rosheda Muller, president of the South African Informal Traders Alliance (Saita). Informal traders want more from Godongwana.

“Of course there will be criteria and we will show how we are going to utilise the grant,” Muller told the Mail & Guardian. “There will be monitoring and evaluation on that grant so that the government can see that the money they spend on the sector is truly used for growth and development and more job creation. Our government needs to remember that informal traders are the backbone to our economy, employing and sustaining the lives of millions of people.”

Last year, Saita launched a campaign to create one-million new jobs by the end of 2023.

Muller said the sector wanted to see substance, after President Cyril Ramaphosa promised in his State of the Nation address that his government would support small businesses to grow and create jobs.

“We believe the word ‘support’ could mean anything. We want to put meat on that word. Does it mean that we are going to have an enabling environment? Are we going to have the infrastructure we need to operate instead of looking like shantytowns along the street? What is that support?” Muller asked.

Ramaphosa also said the government would remove red tape, including regulations hindering the growth of small business, as part of measures to stimulate economic growth and create jobs. 

“Saita definitely wants to engage with the government to make sure that what was delivered at Sona is put into action. The point on the red tape reduction has been a cliché already over the last five years and not much has been done with regard to cutting the red tape and making it easier for informal and small businesses to operate better,” Muller said.

“We want to know what red tape reduction means,” Muller said. 

Saita said it had already written to Small Business Development Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on how to collaborate to implement Ramaphosa’s Sona undertakings.

Anathi Madubela is an Adamela Trust business reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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Anathi Madubela
Anathi Madubela is a business journalist with a keen interest in the retail sector.

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