South Africa: Small Businesses, Government Support and 'Fake News'


Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has claimed that there will be no racial requirement for small business support as a result of the national shutdown and that this claim was 'fake news'. But a range of questions still needs answers.

It's common cause that one of the biggest problems in the 21-day lockdown that begins at midnight tonight (Thursday 26 March) to combat the spread of Covid-19 will be the survival of small businesses. Small businesses, especially in SA, have limited balance sheets and only marginal access to finance.

Consequently, the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) - which has up till now been a minor outpost in government - has suddenly got a huge, crucial job on its hands: to try to save as many small businesses as possible in what is likely to be a massive economic contraction. Thousands of small businesses will most likely go bankrupt over the next few weeks, and possibly hundreds of thousands of employees will be retrenched. Many have already been let go.

Speed is obviously a priority, so President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night said the DSBD would make more than R500-million available immediately to assist small and medium enterprises that...

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