Support interventions to small business during COVID-19 lockdown: update; with Minister & Deputy

Small Business Development

28 April 2020
Chairperson: Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape)
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Meeting Summary

Audio: Financial Support Interventions provided to small business during COVID- 19 lockdown
Video: Financial Support Interventions provided to small business during COVID- 19 lockdown

COVID-19: Regulations and Guidelines
Disaster Management Act 57 of 200

The Minister of Small Business Development, accompanied by the Deputy Minister, updated the Portfolio and Select Committees in a joint virtual meeting on the implementation of the COVID-19 response programmes by the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD).

DSBD's main programmes were the SMME Debt Relief Fund and the Business Growth/Resilience Facility. However the latter had been placed on hold because of the demand for debt relief. Other programmes included a support programme for spaza shops and general dealers involving a combination of working capital and access to revolving credit, backed by the Khula Credit Guarantee Scheme; a payment holiday for SEFA-funded clients and customised informal business interventions. The eligibility requirements and funding terms for the various programmes were detailed.

To date, 759 SMMEs have been assisted using R280 million of the R530 million budget at a rate of approximately R350 000 per SMME. To cater for the deficit due to new applications, those SMMEs needing payroll assistance are being moved to UIF assistance and DSBD is looking for further funding and means to assist SMMEs. Assistance granted is also in the form of loans and not grants at a repayment rate of prime minus five percent.

Members asked about application and registration procedures and if reasons could be given for rejection. SEFA clarified that mere registration did not amount to application for assistance and that there had been few if any rejections. Of the 30 000 relevant applications received as of this past Sunday, 17 000 had been approved and 759 paid out in keeping with their budget. Assistance would be in the form of loans to facilitate the assistance of other SMMEs.

On questions about statistics of SMMEs affected by this crisis, the Minister replied that before this time there was no database of the country's SMMEs. They now know that there are approximately 2.5 million SMMEs in the country and that 1.5 million of them are in the informal sector. The Minister relied on an undisclosed study indicating that 67% of SMMEs could survive for the next three months, but she did not know how accurate this was. She emphasised the importance of Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) and said that it would be among the demographic criteria considered in assessing applications although it is not mentioned because of its fundamental importance in creating a transformative South Africa. This was in response to the argument that COVID-19 had impacted impartially and accordingly assistance should be granted impartially.

Businesses owned by foreign nationals would be assisted in the remaining 30% over and above the 70% prioritising South African businesses. This is because the right to trade is a preferential right. Informal businesses may get a permit to trade if they are documented foreigners, but priority would be granted to refugees. Asylum seekers did not currently stand to be assisted as their permits last only three months at a time. Issues about media reports on the withholding of permits were being addressed. Provinces, such as the Western Cape, were not compliant in granting permits to South African businesses and steps would be taken if need be to ensure that people are supported. Tourism and agriculture sectors would not be assisted as they already had funding and relief schemes in place.

Supporting SMMEs supplying COVID-19 essentials is a priority for DSBD and they were leaving for a meeting to advocate that SMMEs are represented in procurement spaces with the Departments of Health and Basic Education as the main procurers.

The position of sole proprietors was a concern for the Committee as they had not initially been represented on the registration website for debt relief. DSBD insisted that the practice directives to be announced would attend to their standing. They clarified that the term was generic and only those falling within the DSBD mandate would be eligible for assistance.

DSBD was unable to say when restaurants, flower markets and cash microlenders would be reopened since that is determined by the National Command Council.

Registration and applications are open throughout the next three months whilst DSBD is implementing SMME debt relief. After three months they will consider implementing the Business Growth Facility.

DSBD was looking into means for assisting business owners in rural areas and townships with access to debt relief registration and application as well as delivery of food from local street vendors and chisanyamas. It is looking into using the South African Post Office (SAPO) for deliveries and distribution and have made agreements with Nedbank.

KwaZulu-Natal had experienced particular success in taking advantage of the programmes available to spaza shops. Although the Committee was sceptical as to its success juxtaposed against the failure of other provinces, DSBD explained that KZN already had a pre-existing database of their spaza shops and were thus better able to take advantage of the opportunities. Committee members encouraged other provinces to take note of this example and inform their people of the facilities available to assist them.

Applications made to SEFA prior to the pandemic have been placed on hold as addressing the crisis has required all of SEFA's operating power. When the crisis has passed, it will return to normal application procedures.

Although some MPs felt 759 SMME debt relief approvals was not sufficient progress, the majority commended DSBD for its work.

Meeting report

Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape), Chairperson of the Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism, Employment and Labour, remarked that the COVID-19 national lockdown declared by the National Command Council would move from Level 5 as of 1 May to Level 4. From time to time the Ministers will be announcing regulations and directives on additions to services which are viewed as essential services. Previously, they were relying on press briefings, but now that Parliament is reopening virtually, they have invited the Department to brief both committees. He welcomed the Minister and formally acknowledged a discussion had with the Minister pursuant to Saturday’s press briefing announcing that the public and stakeholders may make recommendations as to Level 4 and said that they are now being considered.

The Select Committee Chairperson noted that the Portfolio Committee Chairperson could not attend as her brother passed away. Condolences were expressed on the Committee’s behalf. He continued to chair the meeting which was formally supported by those present. Roll-call was taken and the Chairperson noted that three MPs were struggling with network and were not able to connect.

Minister’s introductory remarks
The Minister of Small Business Development, Ms Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, thanked the Committee for rescheduling the meeting from last week due to competing time constraints. She asked that she and the Deputy Minister be excused at 17:00 and apologised in advance as they needed to attend a special meeting in the social cluster on the re-opening of schools. She also asked that the Acting Director-General be excused at 17:30 to attend a Directors General meeting. She noted that SEFA Board Chairperson and Acting CEO are also present.

Small Business Development presentation by the Acting Director-General
DSBD Acting Director-General, Mr Lindokuhle Mkhumane, said that they are already working on interventions to be introduced as soon as the lockdown is lifted.

Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) Debt Relief Fund
This intervention instrument is the most popular instrument that SMMEs are applying for. They are currently also offering rental assistance and payroll assistance for these SMMEs as they are not currently earning during the lockdown. They will not throw SMMEs who are not registered with UIF under the bus but will assist them as long as they register and settle outstanding obligations with UIF once their businesses are back up and running. They intend to assist municipalities who need support. The focus in this report is SMMEs because they have different criteria for informal business.

Eligibility requirements
One must be registered and compliant with SARS and FICA and be 100% South African owned and employees must be 70% South African. Further, they should register on the SMME database: After all registration and obligations have been met, they will be able to account to the Auditor General.

Funding terms
The average amount that SMMEs require is around R350 000 with a maximum amount of R500 000 being granted. They believe this will help them cover as many SMMEs as possible.

Business Growth/ Resilience Facility
This facility has been put on hold because SMMEs need debt relief. This facility will be focussed on for businesses that will be fulfilling orders for PPE and food during this period. There is a meeting directly after this with departments dealing with procurement to push for these purchases to be made from SMMEs.

Spaza Shops and General Dealer Support Programme
This programme is dedicated to supporting spaza shops. The hope is that these businesses can grow and enable money to circulate in townships and grow the economy in those areas. They would like to assist spaza shops to realise their potential and serve as centres for locally manufactured goods and services. They want to strengthen informal businesses as convenient access points for goods and services with the aim of making them profitable and recognisable in the formal business economy. The key assumptions taken into account for this programme is that they were shut down during lockdown and had no other source of income, therefore they should benefit from the social relief grants. Informal businesses are part of the services to be opened first. Support is being granted to licensed business. A sector-specific approach to improve line of sight is being developed. Support is a combination of working capital and access to revolving credit, backed by the Khula Credit Guarantee Scheme.

Eligibility requirements
- Spaza shop dealer/general dealer must be owner managed and operated.
- Must register on SMMEsA portal.
- Must also register or be willing to register with CIPC, SARS and UIF.

Funding terms
Two facilities are being offered:
1. Maximum R3 500 capital investment as negotiated with wholesalers and assistance from commercial banks. Banks are the access points and are not benefiting from this arrangement.
2. When the R3500 is exhausted, you can apply for a further R3500. If, however, the full R7000 is needed, it will come as a credit facility.

The current budget is R175 million targeting 25 000 spaza shops, but they are looking for more money because the target is a little bit higher than this. They are also looking for more wholesalers that are closer to the spaza shops, with KZN leading with the most wholesalers spread around the province.

Payment Holiday for SEFA funded Clients  
This intervention treats each case on its own merits. The requirement for payment is postponed. The payment holiday is on both capital and interest. There are currently 219 clients eligible who have a total outstanding balance of R335 million.

Other customised informal business interventions
DSBD has designed specific instruments for specific subsectors because they have learnt that a blanket instrument to target the informal sector does not work. They are also working with the Department Labour to run with the programme and negotiate about funding resources, given the limited budget

Implementation status of response programmes
• Growth Fund /SMME Debt Relief: Currently, 665 applications have been approved. This will maintain 10 986 jobs.
• Business Growth Facility is on hold but it had already approved four applications, maintaining 159 jobs.
• The provinces were asked to provide data on their informal businesses. Unfortunately, Free State and Mpumalanga submitted only one application per province. One of the reasons the approval rate per province is low is because some provinces do not have databases detailing their informal business sector.
• SEFA received 104 applications by 22 April 2020 and 88 of them were approved. The 16 that were declined were businesses such as hawkers, electricians, chisanyamas, and non-permit holders.

Minister’s comments
Minister Ntshavheni clarified some details about the instruments. Firstly, given that the amount is too little for debt relief, DSBD has agreed with the Department of Labour and the Unemployment Insurance Fund that employees of all SMMEs who are registering for UIF will qualify for UIF payroll assistance for their employees on condition that the employer facilitates an acknowledgement of debt on their UIF obligations. Therefore, those who have applied for debt relief will be moved over to UIF for payment. This includes both unregistered SMMEs and previously registered SMMEs who have not met their requirements. Government's approach is that it cannot punish employees for the sins of unregistered employers.

The Business Resilience Facility is on hold because of fraudulent applications and other schemes like IDC were funding some businesses already. They are currently working on how to support SMMEs that are making medical and essential goods.

For spaza shops, DSBD has partnered with Nedbank. There are no credit checks on the owners of spaza shops. At ministerial level, a partnership has been agreed on which allows spaza shops to apply for assistance at more accessible Post Offices, which will provide broader access than the Nedbank deal. They are in conversation with Standard Bank. However, the SAPO agreement should be resolved soon as it is going to assist in the roll-out of redeeming social relief vouchers and the social relief grant.

DSBD is finalising the modalities with South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and National Treasury to deal with the mechanisms. Pick n Pay and Shoprite will not be allowed to take over the role of spaza shops in townships and rural areas. There is an existing cabinet decision to this effect. That is why SEFA stopped funding Pick n Pay to extend spaza shops to townships.

Mr Z Mbhele (DA) noted that the one area that seems to have been overlooked in the intervention and relief measures is sole proprietors. The registration website now accommodates this, but initially it did not. The bulk of queries he is receiving from the public deal with this. Secondly, he asked about the progress dates. About a week ago, it was said 81 000 had been registered on the database. Today, it states there are 17 000 applications. Can DSBD explain why there is a gap between those that register and those that apply? The low number of approvals is concerning as they are significantly less than a thousand. Anything to speed up this process would be appreciated. He asked about the nationality requirement of small business owners. If the priority is protecting small businesses to protect the livelihoods that depend on those jobs. He feared that vulnerable people may fall through the cracks because of that stipulation.

Ms S Boshoff (DA, Mpumalanga) asked how many micro establishments having a turnover less than R2 million turnover per year have indicated to DSBD that they will struggle or close down? How many businesses have indicated that they will be able to last for this month or one to three months?

Mr L Mangcu (ANC) commended DSBD for its work. He asked if there are checks and balances to ensure that these are 100% South African owned companies supporting 70% South African employees. There have been media reports saying that Local Economic Development support is not being given to some businesses, are these reports true across the provinces? Can the Minister explain if assistance is given as loans or grants? This is important so that people can understand well, what their obligations are.

Mr T Brauteseth (DA, KwaZulu-Natal) said that the criteria for the Debt Relief Fund do not mention anything about BBBEE constraints. Also, there are some people who have applied who have either not received a response or simply been rejected without reason. He asked if reasons may be given and why it is taking so long to apply after registration. Do rental assistance and payroll assistance fall under the same portal address or is there another portal to apply for these? He noted that people who are legally resident in South Africa have been shut down by the police. He asked what DSBD is doing for documented foreign nationals.

Mr F du Toit (FF+) asked the Minister to confirm if DSBD is offering aid to SMMEs and tourism enterprises that are being adversely affected by COVID-19. Everyone, notwithstanding their race, is affected by COVID-19. DSBD cannot rely on section 9(2) of the Constitution as a justification for discriminating in granting assistance for the COVID-19 impact.

Mr M Dangor (ANC, Gauteng) asked the Minister if special provision is being made for people who are making masks and ventilators – is there going to be particular support and focus on them.

Mr G Hendricks (Al Jama-ah) commended the goal of 25 000 spaza shops but said it is sad that there are only one or two responses from the provinces. He commended the KZN Premier for letting people know what support is available to them, and is disappointed with the other provinces. DSBD should hang its head in shame that only 665 businesses are now being assisted as small businesses are continuing to suffer. There is something that DSBD is not doing right. Either people are not applying or not being approved. He thinks the Minister should rethink the process.

Mr H Kruger (DA) was concerned about sole proprietors and informal businesses in the issuing of permits for essential services. They need to register on CIPC to acquire official permits as essential services. There is a gap as sole proprietors need a clearer procedure on how they can obtain official permits so they are not troubled by police.

Mr F Jacobs (ANC) commended the work of DSBD and its efforts but noted there is room for improvement as 665 applications out of 17 000 is not enough. He asked the Minister how they will improve this. Registration for debt relief closed at the end of February. He asked the Minister to reconsider and extend this as the effects of the pandemic are only being felt now. He asked for the toll-free number and if there is increased capacity to respond to the need. Is the SMME website open and operational? The spaza shop initiative is a good campaign, but more SMMEs must be part of a phased transition into accessing these opportunities. This is a big challenge in the Western Cape and it is a good initiative by government. Some municipalities are not allowing trading permits for some spaza shops – there are some issues in Cape Town. He asked how access can be ensured for all as local spaza shops must benefit from the initiative.

Ms B Mathevula (ANC, Limpopo) (written question on the chat) asked what measures has DSBD put in place to assist business owners from rural areas and township who are unable to use or access internet to apply for the relief funding. How many applications have you received so far from Limpopo?

Mr M Mmoeimang (ANC, Northern Cape)(written question on the chat) noted the reopening of restaurant and fast food outlets from 1 May 1 provided they use delivery as a method of distribution. How does the Minister intend restaurants in villages and townships to operate without a mode of delivery? He asked if SALGA has been approached to help with databases as the absence of reliable data on informal businesses proves to be a challenge.

Ms H Boschoff (DA) (written question) asked when microlenders of cash loans can reopen.

Minister’s response
Percentage of approvals of applications

The allocation initially was R530 million which was divided between Debt Relief and the Growth and Resilience scheme. The average amount arrived at was R350 000 per SMME, meaning that R5.6 billion is needed to attend to the 16 000 applications. That is why they are sharing the load with UIF. They are also in talks with National Treasury.

For the first two weeks, there were teething problems, but approvals continue to take place. Tomorrow it should look different but in the next three days they should reach the R530 million budget. Although there is not enough money to fund all the SMMEs, they are making agreements to ensure SMMEs are catered for. SEFA is now running full steam on approvals.

Soft loans and registrations
Registrations were sitting at 138 000 two days ago. After removing duplicates, they were left with 17 000 three days ago. If they were to approve everyone, they do not have enough money. That is why they have made an agreement with UIF to pass on those who need payroll assistance. Since they do not want people to re-apply, they are streamlining their process with the UIF. The coverage of 665 is not too low considering their budget at the moment. Using the budget of R350 000, they would only have been able to assist 700 SMMEs.

Database indicating how SMMEs are affected
Before this time, there was no SMME database. It is only now that they know there are more than 2.5 million SMMEs in the country and more than 1.5 million are in the informal sector. 100 million SMMEs sign in every minute. On how many businesses will last for a month or three, there is a study indicating that 67% of SMMEs can last for the next three months, however the Minister cannot vouch for the study.

BBBEE is a critical requirement for transforming the economy and we cannot choose as and when we use it. All South Africans should own and have a share in the economy. When applications come through, they consider demographic representation, which includes not only race but also gender, geographic representation, age and disability. They are committed to all South Africans having a share of the economy.

Foreign nationals
Foreign nationals engaging in business, in line with the Immigration Act, require a R5 million investment. Informal businesses cannot invest this much but may get a permit to trade if they are documented. However, the right to trade is not the same as right to support. Right to support is a right for South Africans. Asylum seeker status lasts three months and support lasts 24 months, therefore they do not apply for support as there are questions of permanence. Refugees, however, do qualify for support. Legally documented workers fall within the 30% remaining not set aside for South African nationals. The priority is South Africans and those protected by the Constitution and international statutes. She noted if people are hungry, they should be fed; but this is business, which is a preferential right to trade.

Loans or Grants
Currently soft loans are being granted because they need to be able to recuperate them and extend it to other small businesses that will need the cover. They are granting the soft loans so that business owners that cannot survive this period do not carry the burden alone.

Media reports on withholding of permits
Most provinces are compliant; however, DSBD is engaging with SALGA as to why one province in particular is trying to act independently. The Western Cape is acting unilaterally not only in terms of small businesses but also it announced the unbanning of cigarettes without consulting government. People cannot continue to be marginalised owing to politics. DSBD has the ability to intervene if the province does not toe the line.

Tourism and agriculture
Enterprises in these sectors are not being supported as these sectors already have mechanisms in place. Until the court case has been finalised about the interdicted tourism relief scheme, enterprises in this sector will have to await the judgment outcome. DSBD supports them only at a business development level. The Departments of Tourism and Agriculture will deal with funding and relief for those sectors.

Supporting SMMEs supplying COVID-19 essentials
The Minister is currently pushing to ensure that this happens, hence the need to leave early for the next cluster meeting to make sure support is given. Although they have stopped the business growth and resilience scheme, they want to ensure that support is granted for these.

Sole proprietors
This is dealt with through the practice directives. Initially plumbers and electricians were not open, but now they are. They do not have to apply for permits through CIPC because it is tedious. The term ‘sole proprietor’ is too generic as DSBD can only speak of those in its area of responsibility.

Reopening of restaurants
Support details will be announced in due time in line with the Level 4 regulations.

Registration and application date extension
Applications did not close on 29 February 2020. DSBD will support businesses that were operational until that date. Registration and application continue to be open. For the first three months, they will be in relief mode. After three months they will move into business viability. If relief mode needs to be extended, it will be extended as guided.

The Minister was excused to attend another meeting. Acting DG Mr Mkhumane continued to respond.

Acting DG response
Assisting business owners in rural areas and townships

Those unable to access internet can use the hotline. They have more than 20 people at the desk and have extended operating hours until 8pm. The offices are still open and they can be guided through the online process at the offices. They have also tried to simplify the form as far as possible while remaining compliant with governance requirements so that they can correctly account for spending of taxpayer money when audited.

Updated application statistics
SEFA will speak to the current statistics. As of this past Saturday, there were around 30 000 applications. PWC has offered its services for free to assist in separating applications from enquiries received on email.

Re-opening of restaurants / flower markets
This will be on a delivery basis. They are still exploring working with the Post Office and instruments like Uber Eats. There is the problem that some existing instruments need a delivery fee, which will be challenging for businesses like chisanyamas in townships and street vendors. They intend to assist these businesses with start-up stock as they often work with perishable food which went off when the lockdown started.

Mr Mkhumane replied that he was uncertain if flower markets will be open in Level 4 as that is up to the National Command Council.

This will be announced after the National Command Council meeting on 29 April and so he does not know at this point.

Every business owner with a South African ID (green ID book or Smart ID) qualifies for assistance.

There are checks and balances about business having 70% South African employees. It is part of the criteria being looked at by SEFA and loans will be given at a prime minus five percent rate.

Businesses unregistered for UIF
Some employers have not registered their employees for UIF, therefore UIF is being approached by employees who have not been registered by their employers. The UIF is asking employers if they will register and pay when they are back up and running. If they register and agree to be compliant, UIF will assist their employees.

SEFA responses
Mr Andrew Martin-Robert Mahosi, SEFA Board Chairperson, clarified that registration on the database is not the same as application for support. When SMMEs register, they get a reference number to submit an application to SEFA for funding. Therefore, there is no substance to claims that people have registered and received rejection without explanation.

There were two email addresses to receive applications, one for business relief and another for business growth and the latter has been put on hold.

On the business relief side, they received 25 000 emails. Not all were applications so they had to sift those emails for those that were not applications or were not relevant. There were 11 500 applications processed in total out of the 25 000 after removing irrelevant applications such as relief for a lodge. Those not in compliance for debt relief were 6 487 and have been referred to SEDA. R280 million of the total budget has already been allocated.

Further questions
Mr H April (ANC) commended the work of DSBD under the Minister’s leadership. He asked if the funds being made available are loans or grants or a combination of both, and that the public must be notified of this. How should small businesses access SARS and CIPC if they are closed? Additionally, there are many small businesses that cannot access phones and internet to do everything online. He asked about the R100 million that was granted and how it will be spent.

Mr T Langa (EFF) had some reservations about the graph statistics presented and some of the statistics were surprising to him. Although he is based in KZN, he noted that most small businesses nation-wide are struggling. Looking at the graphs, what is it that KZN has done that the other provinces have not done in the registration of spaza shops? The lack of representation on the graphs suggests that spaza shops around the country are struggling to access support, especially as most spaza shop owners are not computer literate. He asked what is being done to ensure that the "mamma on the street" is supported. What DSBD interventions will ensure small businesses are accessing business opportunities for medical equipment and other products in high demand? Has DSBD considered decentralising procurement?

Acting DG responses

Acting DG Mr Mkhumane said that procurement is centralised at the Departments of Health and Basic Education as they will be procuring a lot. DSBD was not initially invited to these meetings as the argument was made that big business will be better able to ensure delivery of urgent procurement. They will be addressing this in the meeting today and arguing that small businesses are ready.

KZN success
KZN was very organised. Before the programme was introduced, KZN gave to DSBD a list of over 8 900 spaza shops with information about the districts they are in and their contact numbers. Therefore DSBD was not surprised that they were quicker in the uptake of the programme.

The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI Act) may prohibit the sharing of the information. The SEFA Chairperson will clarify more about sharing that information and pertaining to the number applications made in Limpopo.

The correct call centre number is 0860 6637867 for SMME support.

SEFA response
Mr Mahosi clarified that loans will be given at a rate of prime minus five percent. There are no grants, only loans. He agreed that this information should be given to the public. Entities must be registered with SARS and UIF; but not being registered is not a reason for rejection. At application stage, the bar is being set as low as possible so that everyone can apply. SEFA and SEDA are essential services; therefore, their offices are currently open. They do not have information available about the number of applications received, however 49 applications have been approved. They cannot provide the Committee a list of those approved owing to POPI Act considerations.

Further questions
The Chairperson asked if there are any more questions.

Mr Mbhele asked if there are sole proprietors and self-employed people on the list of approved applications. He needs information as to how to respond to them as they have been historically self-reliant and it would be detrimental to have them end up unemployed.

Mr April asked SEFA if pre-COVID projects and applications are still running in light of the re-prioritisation of the current context.

Mr Hendricks said that he does not want to put the Chairperson on the spot but in light of the briefing, he is not convinced that the Committee has heard anything from DSBD which gives him hope that they are able to support the country. They are letting the people down. He thinks the Chair must comment on this.

The Chairperson commented that the purpose was to receive a briefing on DSBD’s work. He noted the programmes implemented for debt relief and spaza shops as well as the emergency funds. He welcomed Members to make proposals if they have any.

Mr Jacobs was of the view that the glass is half full rather than half empty. Although he agrees that more must be done, he can hear that DSBD is clearly working around the clock, and they need to be encouraged for this. The Provinces should also become better at driving the spaza shop campaign and better organised. As oversight, they need to ensure that SEDA and SEFA improve their implementation capacity whilst ensuring their safety at the frontline. The Committee also needs to check in regularly for oversight to ensure that work is being done.

SEFA response
Mr Mahosi clarified that he is just the board chairperson and not a member of the SEFA executive. R100 million was granted before they were halfway through the initial amount. The agency has looked at 25 000 applications and approved R279 994 393 so far. SEFA has seen this many applications. Sole proprietors have been recognised but must be distinguished as some are registered with CIPC and some are not. If they are formerly registered, SEFA is responding to them. 759 SMMEs have been assisted from the rounded up R280 million.

On the applications prior to the pandemic, Mr Mahosi replied that it would not have been possible to deal with the crisis had they continued with business as usual. The ordinary processes were put on hold until the crisis has passed, at which point they will return to normal applications.

The Chairperson concluded by saying that the Minister will be invited on a regular basis to update the Committee who will continue its oversight role.

He reminded Members that Written Questions to the Minister are still welcome during this period.

Meeting adjourned.


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