COVID-19: Grants For Small Businesses and Freelancers

With COVID-19 rampant worldwide, the current economic climate is already taking a knock as business activity is being put on hold. This is arguably affecting freelancers and small businesses more than anyone else.  With many of them having had to survive on a hand-to-mouth system before the lockdown, their futures couldn’t be more uncertain right now.

Fortunately, the government, as well as other private organizations, are aware of the complications that these entities face and in response, have opened some grants to aid them. And to make things a little easier, we’ve rounded up some of the applicable grants right here.

  1. BASA Supporting Grants
Image Source: BASA

In light of the current situation, Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) decided to revamp their pre-existing Supporting Grants programme. The funding opportunities that the programme initially offered are still available, but are now joined by additional provisions. BASA will now accept the applications of individual artists, in order to provide them with short-term financial aid for COVID-19-related medical care and/or prescription medicines. This financial aid can also be used to cushion the blows of income loss due to canceled work as a result of the lockdown.

  1. SAFT Employer Relief Fund
Image Source: Standard Bank

The South African Future Trust has come together with Standard Bank to unveil a R1 billion trust for SMMEs. This fund is allocated for employees at small businesses who are at risk of losing their jobs now that business operations have come to a halt. These funds will be distributed as loans though, with SMME’s having to pay them back interest-free over a 5 year period.

Image Source: Department of Employment and Labour

Facilitated by the Unemployment Insurance Fund, the Corona Virus Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (COVID19TERS) is similar to the SAFT Employer Relief Fund in that its a fund designated for assisting employees, “to contribute to the containment of the Corona Virus and its impact”. The main difference between them though is that it doesn’t seem that COVID19TERS is strictly for small businesses. Read more here.

  1. DSAC Relief Fund
Image Source: The South African

The Department of Sports, Arts, and Culture (DSAC), with the SASCOC (South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee) and the CCIFSA (Cultural and Creative Industries Federation of South Africa), founded a relief fund for artists and athletes alike. This relief fund is allocated based on projects/events that one was supposed to participate in, but were canceled because of the outbreak of COVID-19. The arts and culture criteria does note that parties that do apply for the relief fund have to have entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the DSAC itself or with associated institutions, namely; the National Arts Council (NAC), the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), the National Heritage Council (NHC), Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), etc.’ Read more about this here.

  1. Youth Business Relief Fund

As its name suggests, the Youth Business Relief Fund is geared towards youth entrepreneurs to assist them in paying employees. The initiative was developed by Youth Chamber of Commerce and Industry in South Africa (YCCISA), whose core focus is driving youth entrepreneurship as they feel that South Africa’s high unemployment rates can be alleviated by a focus on youth entrepreneurship – a sentiment shared by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Image Source: Yoco

Besides these funding platforms, some organisations have also been trying to provide help with easing the application process. YOCO, a point-of-sales payment provider typically used by small businesses, is allowing their users to ‘use their sales reports to indicate loss of revenue as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic by using time period comparison reports.’ We would suggest finding whether the financial institutions that you/your company works with are providing any assistance in this regard.

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