Business Partners, which administers the R1-billion fund from the Rupert family and Remgro, has launched a website for SMEs to apply for funding.

Now called the Sukuma Relief Programme, it offers distinct financial aid to formal sole proprietors and close corporations, companies, and trusts.

Small and medium enterprises which are negatively impacted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are encouraged to apply.

For formal sole proprietors the fund offers a grant of R25,000 per qualifying business to be used to pay for overheads.

Close corporations, companies, and trusts can apply for financial aid in the form of an unsecured interest-bearing loan of between R250,000 and R1 million, coupled with a non-repayable grant of R25,000 per qualifying business.

The loan portion will be interest free for 12 months with no repayment obligations during this period.

To qualify, businesses must provide evidence of financial activity prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, be tax compliant, and abide by the necessary regulations.

The application forms for businesses which require funding are available at the links below:

“We have made our process simple and fast. You can expect to receive the financial aid within seven working days of your application,” Business Partners said.

The time frame is, however, dependent on a company submitting all the required information.

It should be noted that the application forms struggled to load when MyBroadband tried to test them. This may be caused by high loads.

How the funding will work

Business Partners MD Ben Bierman said they have been working hard to put guidelines and systems in place to ensure the funding reaches businesses that need it most.

The funding will be made available to smaller businesses in the form of a grant, which means there will be no repayment obligations.

For larger businesses, there will be a loan component which will have to be repaid at some point in the future.

The initial interest-free period, where no repayment has to be made, will be one year. Bierman said they hope the major impact of the coronavirus outbreak would have subsided by then.

“Hopefully by that time businesses will return to cash flow positive and profitability, which will make it possible for them to repay some of the money,” he said.

Bierman made it clear that the R1-billion pledge by the Rupert family is a donation, and that none of the money will go back to the family.

He added that the objective is to administer the donation in a way that will retain capital in the trust after the COVID-19 crisis is over.

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