FNB to help business struggling during lockdown with toolkit

By Edward West Time of article published May 15, 2020

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CAPE TOWN –  FNB, with Edge Growth and Vumela Enterprise Development, have launched a Business Toolkit to help the thousands of businesses that have come under a financial cosh during the National Lockdown through forced closure and no turnover.

The package includes videos, articles, tools and templates to help businesses respond to the current environment, and provide them with advice to get through the Covid-19 crisis.

“The Business Toolkit will be updated regularly over the coming months to cover 4-phases of crisis management, that will help equip businesses on how to react, respond, re-strategize and re-launch.” Yolande Steyn, the head of FNB SME Growth and Support said yesterday (thursday).

A recent Statistics SA survey showed  42 percent of small business respondents were not confident of being able to continue operations post the Covid-19 outbreak, while 54 percent indicated they would only be able to survive between one to three months.

“Our experience is that many SMEs are under-equipped to deal with their current reality; yet they will face dire consequences if correct action is not taken rapidly. Further, the many economic and SME support packages, while welcome, do not address the strategic need businesses may face to survive”, said Steyn.

Edge Growth director Jason Goldberg said the pandemic was “devastating businesses and livelihoods”.

“We run the real risk of a permanent loss of millions of jobs if SMEs are forced to shut down permanently. Businesses are the backbone of employment in Africa, and if they don’t come out of this and grow, the humanitarian disaster could be devastating. We simply have to maximise the survival rate of businesses,” he said.

The toolkit focuses on helping business owners survive now (scenario planning, liquidity management, cost-cutting, rightsizing), and then bouncing back (restrategizing for the new world).

National Small Business Chamber chief executive Mike Anderson said Wednesday night’s announcement of a move from Level 4 to Level 3 at the end of May was good news for most of South Africa, except the Covid-19 hotspots, Cape Town and Johannesburg, which were also the two dominant areas for small businesses.

“Even at Level 3, 75 percent of small businesses still have enormous restrictions on rights.  You cannot improve the health and well-being of a nation by making your country poorer, this has never been achieved by any country,” said Anderson.

“The latest announcements were too little, too late for many small businesses. A continued lockdown with no end in sight is not in the best interests of the small business sector and the economy. Small businesses need more direction and assurance so they can plan and prepare,” said Anderson.

Mazars Recovery and Restructuring director Justine Hoppe said South Africa would likely see a wave of companies going into business rescue in the next few months, particularly those companies that had other difficulties before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

“For a company at the brink in recent years or months, the Covid-19 lockdown is likely to push it over the edge,” she said,

She said business rescue didn’t guarantee that companies would be saved, and business rescue was only effective in companies that made the right choices, early on.

BUSINESS REPORT 

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