DURBAN - ETHEKWINI mayor Mxolisi Kaunda on Monday handed out over R21 million-worth of economic relief assistance to small business owners.
“This group of 100 is the first to receive funding of the 700 successful applicants. The fund was established to bring relief to businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Processes to assist the other successful applicants is under way and will be finalised soon,” said mayoral spokesperson Mluleki Mntungwa.
The beneficiaries are across all sectors, including spaza shops, salons, retail and flea markets, catering, construction, co-operatives and agribusiness.
Kaunda said this was an initiative by the municipality to bring much-needed relief to small businesses adversely affected by the pandemic.
"The small business sector made a significant contribution to the gross domestic product. This intervention was important as the nationwide lockdown has had a devastating impact on businesses in the city. This resulted in the loss of approximately R34 billion across all sectors of the economy. An estimated 6 000 companies were forced to close down, resulting in over 300 000 job losses," Kaunda said.
He said eThekwini was the first metro in the country to develop an economic recovery plan to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.
Mayor Kaunda said R21 million was set aside for the relief package, adding that there are other relief programmes available at the city’s one-stop centre at the Durban Exhibition Centre.
One of the beneficiaries, Gcinokuhle Dube of Loxion tours in uMkhumabane, said he could finally see light at the end of the tunnel.
"There was a time when I thought it was over for my business, as tourism was hard hit by the pandemic. However, this relief fund has provided me with an opportunity to market and reposition my brand without having to take a loan," he said.