“Whites got lion’s share of funding”

Minister of Small Business Development Khumbudzo Ntshavheni ruffled a lot of feathers this week when she told MPs that the lion’s share of the different COVID-19 relief schemes went to white-owned businesses.

Ntshavheni said: “Government has provided R200-billion government-guaranteed loans. Of that R200-billion, banks have advanced R15-billion to SMMEs – 75% of the beneficiaries are white.

“Equally, the Business Partners have a scheme to support SMMEs and of their scheme of R1-billion … 75% went to white-owned businesses.”

The Sukuma Fund (Busness Partners) was started with a R1-billion donation from the Rupert family and Remgro Limited. Business Partners provided Sunday World with a breakdown of its disbursement.

The company said since being set up in April 2020, the Sukuma Relief Fund had, as at August 17, provided a total of R766.7-million in emergency relief funding to 3 432 small businesses.

Of that total, R85.8-millionwas paid in non-refundable grants to 2 208 sole proprietor businesses and 1 224 SMEs.

It said the bulk of the capital, R680.9-million, has been provided as so loans to the 1 224 SMEs helped so far.

David Morobe, executive general manager for impact investing at Business Partners, said in terms of the principles for Sukuma as a relief fund for small business, donors have no influence in Sukuma’s funding decisions.

“The demographic composition of the applicants reflected the make-up of the formal small business sector in South Africa, and 40% of the applicants are women. So far, 61% of the funding has gone to white-owned businesses, reflecting largely the demographic composition of the formal small business sector in South Africa,” Morobe said

“Recognising the challenges faced by many black-owned formal small businesses who are constrained by limited access to online support facilities to obtain  financial assistance, our advisory panel guided Sukuma in developing an outreach programme to assist more black-owned small businesses.”

Black Business Council treasurer-general Bonolo Ramokhele said it was not surprising that most of the beneficiaries of COVID-19 relief schemes benefited white enterprises.

“We said this from the beginning that the R200-billion loan guarantee scheme is flawed in its design and is anti-black business and will benefit elites only.

“Government wrongfully assumed that black businesses are getting loans from commercial banks to begin with.

We don’t even want to comment about the Rupert scheme because that is private money. But it goes to show that exclusion in this economy is along racial lines,” said Ramokhele.

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