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Rupert Family’s R1bn Sukuma Relief Programme now open to small businesses

Business Partner‘s Sukuma Relief Programme, which will disburse R1-billion from the Rupert Family to small businesses, is now open to accept applications for funding.

The financier, in which SA entrepreneur and billionaire Johann Rupert has a share, has been appointed administrator of the fund.

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The fund is made up of two distinct and separate relief offerings – one for formal sole proprietors and another for other business entities, namely close corporations, companies, and trusts, Business Partners announced in a statement on Friday (3 April).

Business Partners managing director Ben Bierman said the financial aid and assistance will comprise grants and low-interest-bearing loans with a 12-month repayment holiday.

Business Partner’s Sukuma Relief Programme consists of grants and low-interest-bearing loans with a 12-month repayment holiday

He said qualifying formal sole proprietors will receive a non-repayable grant of R25 000.

Close corporations, companies and trusts will be eligible for an unsecured loan ranging between R250 000 and R1-million, with no repayment obligations or interest incurred for the first 12 months, in addition to a R25 000 grant, said Bierman.

How to qualify

To qualify for funding, close corporations, companies or trusts must be registered, tax- and regulatory-compliant South African businesses that can prove viability prior to the arrival of the pandemic.

“When applying, these entities will therefore be required to submit documents and supporting evidence to corroborate that it is a viable business that was impacted by Covid-19. This proof can be a demonstration of a decrease in turnover, erosion of working capital, or inability to pay salaries.

“Similarly, formal sole proprietors will need to provide proof of an active bank account to show business activity prior to the outbreak of the pandemic and provide evidence of tax compliance,” he added.

Given the gravity of the unprecedented Covid-19 disruption, Bierman said there will be a focus on swift application, approval and disbursement processing to ensure the relief is made available to qualifying SMEs as quickly as possible.

“We understand that many businesses are currently in need of immediate financial relief. Disbursements will therefore be made within seven days after applying for the assistance, provided the supporting evidence is supplied and verified.”

No fees for Business Partners

Bierman stressed that Business Partners will not be profiting from the funding in any way, and no fees will be charged in relation to the Sukuma Relief Programme. “The donors will also not be paid back at any point,” he added.

Bierman explained that the repayment of the loan portion is an appeal to the beneficiaries of the Programme to “pay it forward” once their businesses are back on their feet, in order to allow for the continuing support of other SMEs into the future.

“While the fund has been originated to provide SMEs with financial aid to assist them in weathering the Covid-19 storm, the plan is for it to run on a sustainable basis over the long term and continue to help SMEs during challenging times like this in the future,” he concluded.

Featured image: SA entrepreneur and billionaire Johann Rupert (Facebook)

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