An estimated 2300 businesses have been signed up for the South African Future Trust (SAFT) funding scheme via FNB. 
Photo: File
An estimated 2300 businesses have been signed up for the South African Future Trust (SAFT) funding scheme via FNB. Photo: File

FNB assists 2300 small businesses with South African Future Trust funding

By Dhivana Rajgopaul Time of article published May 11, 2020

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DURBAN - An estimated 2300 businesses have been signed up for the South African Future Trust (SAFT) funding scheme via FNB. 

According to the bank, These funds will enable 17367 employees to receive income for the next 3 months.

FNB received more than 12000 qualifying SAFT applications from businesses who have been financially impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to SAFT applications, FNB has received more than 40000 completed assessments for both financial and non-financial support from its business clients. 

The assistance requested ranges from payment relief on existing loans, to merchant services device fee relief, as well as resources and guidance on navigating the Covid-19 crisis. 

Jesse Weinberg, Head of the SME Customer Segment at FNB said, "As one of the banks that were entrusted with the humbling responsibility to provide support in disbursing the SAFT funds, we are grateful to have been able to facilitate assistance to more than 2300 businesses, equating to more than 17000 employees, to withstand the current economic pressures and retain as many jobs as possible".

"We commend the effort and unity that has been shown by the South African Government, Business Community, Philanthropists, Oppenheimer family and society at large to protect our country against the impact of COVID-19. FNB continues working together with the South African Reserve Bank, National Treasury and the Banking Association of South Africa (BASA) to help businesses that are financially impacted," added Weinberg.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on small-to-medium size enterprises (SMEs) has already been the focal point of much concern and debate globally. In South Africa, SMEs play a critical role in providing employment and growth to all corners of the country, often referred to as the “backbone” of the South African economy. Consequently, SMEs will need support to withstand the impact of the lockdown measures, which in some cases has led to 100% reduction in revenues.

"Due to the overwhelming number of applications we have received for SAFT funding, where applications are approved for qualifying businesses on a first come, first served basis, the portion of the SAFT fund made available through FNB is currently fully subscribed and we are unable to process any further requests at this point. As with all relief funds, they are limited and unfortunately, we have many clients that did not obtain funds from this scheme. We are proactively and reactively engaging with those clients to see how we can assist in another way or form. We are also working around the clock to process a backlog of payments to some employees of the businesses banked with us, and we appeal to our clients to kindly bear with us as we resolve these delays with utmost urgency," said Weinberg.  

The SAFT fund was made possible by an initial donation of R1 billion by Jonathan and Nicky Oppenheimer who belong to one of the richest families in SouthAfrica. The fund is a 5-year 0 percent interest-free loan where businesses will receive R750 per week per employee for 15 weeks. 

The fund is available to businesses with an annual turnover below R25 million and that have been trading for 24 months. Another requirement is that businesses must have been sustainable on 29 February 2020. The business owner must also be an ABSA, FNB, Nedbank or Standard Bank client and they can register directly with these banks. 

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE

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