DURBAN - The Covid Business Rescue Assistance (COBRA) is working with the Independent Community Pharmacy Association (ICPA) to assist with the identification of funders and the disbursement of donor funding to help rebuild and repair independent pharmacies affected by the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
They said the latest estimates from the South African Property Owners Association indicated that over 3 000 stores were looted in July, with over 40 000 businesses reeling from the impact of the destruction.
This had been been followed by the recent announcement that South Africa’s business confidence index had fallen by 3 points, down to 93.2, its lowest level since October last year.
These insights were curated by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI), which has also shared that business confidence was a necessary ingredient for investment. Conservative estimates currently indicated that the looting resulted in a R70 billion loss to the SA economy.
The two non-profit organisations are seeking to assist at least 84 of the independent pharmacies that had been identified as falling victim to the recent unrest and violence.
Speaking to The Mercury, Adam Craker, chief executive of IQBusiness, and chief executive of COBRA said they believed the bulk of the pharmacies that had been affected by recent looting were mainly in KZN.
Craker added that it was important to have as many of these pharmacies, especially independent ones up and running as soon as possible to ensure there was access to health care especially in remote areas.
“We believe that the bulk of the independent pharmacies affected, about 80% were from KwaZulu-Natal. These pharmacies are in areas that may not be as attractive to major retail pharmacies and they need to be brought back to servicing the community needs.”
COBRA and ICPA said they had managed to raise R8 million of their R20m target to assist the pharmacies. The donations have come from Aspen Pharmacare, Zydus Healthcare, Adcock Ingram, Bidvest, Discovery, Austell Pharmaceuticals and Transpharm, amongst others.
In addition to the financial contributions, COBRA would provide additional business support and assistance that the 84 pharmacies may require, through the 100 partner organisations collaborating within the COBRA ecosystem. These include management consultants, lawyers, financial advisors and IT experts.
Craker said: “It would be great if we exceed the target. One of the overwhelming insights we have had is how big pharmaceutical companies know how important independent pharmacies are. They are funding independent pharmacies to make sure that there is diversity and not just superstore support.”
“The communities that rely on independent pharmacies across KwaZulu Natal, Gauteng and Mpumalanga for their life-saving medication and primary health care require immediate funding help – and we have the network and expertise to facilitate this as soon as possible for the ICPA,” said Craker.
The ICPA and COBRA said pharmacies in Ixopo, Esikhawini, Nongoma, Dalton, uMlazi, Umkomaas and Empangeni had applied for assistance to rebuild or restock their outlets.
“We are experiencing a significant surge in requests for assistance by distressed businesses in both the informal and formal sectors,'' added Craker.
COBRA encouraged KZN businesses to continue to register if they had been affected by the looting.
“We have a R25 000 emergency grant fund,” said Craker, adding that a subsequent grant will have to go through a screening process before businesses received funding.
Business owners wishing to find out more can visit the COBRA website (www.COBRA.org.za). To access the crisis support portal, businesses can visit: (https://cobraza.atlassian.net/servicedesk/customer/portal/7/create/84)