Looking for financial relief for your SME?

Help is available

A number of private and state entities have set up relief funding schemes to support small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic. Here’s a list of relief programmes and initiatives that you can take advantage of to help you stay afloat.

Department of Small Business Development spaza shops and general dealers support scheme in partnership with Nedbank

To improve access to the spaza shops and general dealers support scheme, the Department of Small Business Development wishes to clarify:

A number of private and state entities have set up relief funding schemes to support small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

a) The support scheme also benefits the general dealers/traditional grocery stores in townships and villages with applicable licenses that are 100% owned by South Africans.

b) Local hardware stores are also beneficiaries under this scheme, and their funding package is being finalised to ensure their ability to operate as their businesses have been included in the updated list of businesses offering essential services. The support for artisans (plumbers, electricians, etc) whose services have been classified as essential will also be announced during the week.

c) The Department has finalised an agreement with Nedbank to support spaza shops and general dealers on the back of the Khula Credit Guarantee Scheme of SEFA. Engagements to make similar arrangements with the other banks are continuing. Support through Nedbank and its channels became available from Saturday, 18 April 2020.

d) Given its footprint, Nedbank has availed the Nedbank Desks that are found in all Boxer stores countrywide to serve as additional service points.

How to apply

The spaza shop/ general dealer owner must be a South African and hold a valid trading permit (including temporary) or business license in the case of a general dealer. Go to your nearest Nedbank or Boxer story with your SA ID book or card and your original trading licence or permit. You must be willing to accept help to register you with CIPC, Sars and the UIF if you are not yet registered. You can then register on the SMMESA database and complete the application form. Other terms and conditions apply. 

What support is available under the scheme?

You will get access to working capital investment and a revolving credit facility backed by the Khula Credit Guarantee scheme of SEFA in partnership with Nedbank. The facility is available at participating wholesalers that are distributed countrywide. The list of participating wholesalers will be shared with approved spaza and general dealer owners. Business management support that includes assistance with basic financial management with the support of financial/business graduates will be given to provide dedicated support to the business over a 24-month period.

For additional assistance or enquiries, spaza shop and general dealer owners may call 0860 663 7867 or e-mail to spazasupport@dsbd.gov.za

Additional information may be obtained from these official websites:

Debt relief finance scheme

Administered by the Department of Small Business, this scheme benefits SMEs and businesses that are negatively aff­ected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Qualifying criteria:

  • The business must have been registered with CIPC by at least 28 February 2020
  • Company must be 100% owned by South African citizens
  • Employees must be 70% South Africans
  • Priority will be given to businesses owned by women, youth and people with disabilities
  • Be registered and compliant with SARS and UIF
  • SEDA will assist micro-enterprises to comply and request for assistance must be emailed to debtrelief@seda.org.za, small and medium enterprises must ensure own compliance
  • Registration on the national SMME database: www.smmesa.gov.za
  • Proof that the business is negatively aff­ected by the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Complete the simplified online application platform

Company statutory documents:

  • FICA documents (municipal accounts, letter from traditional authority)
  • Certified copies of IDs of directors
  • Three months' bank statements
  • Latest annual financial statements or latest management accounts not older than three months from date of application, where applicable
  • Business profile, six months' cash flow projections, where applicable
  • Copy of lease agreement or proof of ownership if applying for rental relief
  • If applying for payroll relief, details of employees - as registered with UIF and including banking details – will be required as payroll payments will be made directly to employees
  • SMME employers who are not compliant with UIF must register before applying for relief
  • Facility statements of other funders
  • Detailed breakdown on application of funds including salaries, rent etc.

Register on www.smmesa.gov.za, complete the online application form and upload the required supporting documents.

Spaza shop grant funding

Administered by the Department of Small Business in collaboration with SEFA. The total fund of R30m assists sole proprietors operating spaza shops with R10 000 (with a possible R5 000 being made available as a second phase) for purchasing a basket of essential goods at a discounted price for a period of three months from participating wholesalers. Visit: www.sefa.org.za

Tourism Relief Fund

The Tourism Relief Fund provides once-off capped grant assistance to small, micro and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs) in the tourism value chain to ensure their sustainability during and post the implementation of government measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 in South Africa. Capped at R50 000 per entity, grant funding can be utilised to subsidise expenses towards fixed costs, operational costs, supplies and other pressure cost items.

Guided by the Tourism Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Codes of Good Practices approved by the Minister of Trade and Industries in 2015 (in line with the BBBEE Act No.53 of 2003), the Tourism Relief Fund is administered in line with the objectives of economic transformation, and our vision to ensure sustainable and inclusive tourism development.

Categories eligible to apply for the Tourism Relief Fund include

  • Accommodation establishments: hotels, lodges, bed and breakfast (B&Bs), guest houses and backpackers.
  • Hospitality and related services: restaurants (not attached to hotels); conference venues (not attached to hotels); professional catering; and attractions
  • Travel and related services: tour operators; travel agents; tourist guiding; car rental companies; and coach operators.

The application window for the Tourism Relief Fund will close on 31 May 2020. For more information visit: www.tourism.gov.za or contact the call centre Mon-Sun from 08:00-22:00 on 0860 868 747 or email callcentre@tourism.gov.za.

National Empowerment Fund - Covid-19 Black Business Funding Solution

R200-million has been set aside under the Covid-19 Black Business Fund as a blended facility for SMEs that manufacture and supply identified priority products (including food) to access concessionary loan funding. Funding of R500 000 – R10 million is available. 

Required documents:

  • Declaration on BEE status and size of business
  • NEF application form (accessible on NEF website: www.nefcorp.co.za)
  • Summary of production in the last three months
  • Copy of the financial statements (up to three years)
  • Signed copy of the contract or purchase order from the applicant’s client/s
  • Financial forecast for the duration of the contract, order, or letter of intent
  • Additional information that would be necessary to enhance the application may be requested by the NEF as and when deemed necessary.

SANTACO (The South African National Taxi Council) Covid-19 Relief Fund

SANTACO has launched a R3.5-billion Covid-19 relief fund that will compensate workers in the industry. It aims to help 100 000 queue marshals, 150 000 taxi drivers and the taxi associations’ support staff whose livelihoods have been compromised by the pandemic. Visit: www.santaco.co.za.

UIF Covid-19 Temporary Relief Scheme

This allows employers to apply for the Covid-19 Temporary Relief Benefit – to stem the financial distress due to the pandemic for up to three months. The benefit is de-linked from the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s normal benefits and will only pay for the cost of salary for the employees during the temporary closure of the business operations.

Benefits will pay a replacement income equal to minimum wage of the sector concerned and be capped to a maximum amount of R17 712 per month per employee. It is subject to the income replacement rate sliding scale (38%-60%) as provided for in the Unemployment Insurance Fund Act 63 of 2001. Businesses can apply for the Covid-19 TERS Benefit from the UIF by visiting https://uifecc.labour.gov.za/covid19/covid19.

Standard Bank

From 1 April 2020, Standard Bank will support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a payment holiday for 90 days (01 April 2020 until 30 June 2020) – restructuring payments for the repayment to come into effect after the 90-period. Visit the Standard Bank Covid-19 site. Small businesses, students and those needing help with home loans can email debtcarecentre@standardbank.co.za or call 0860 123 000.


From 1 April 2020, Absa's corporate and business clients will be offered solutions based on their unique requirements and operations. For retail clients, the ABSA relief programme incorporates a three-month payment holiday and allows customers to reduce their monthly repayments. See more details on the Absa Covid-19 site. Absa bond home-owners who would like to apply for relief should mail bondrs@absa.co.za.


From 1 April to 30 June 2020 aimed at providing relief to individual and business FNB customers whose financial stability has been impacted by Covid-19 pandemic. Visit the FNB COVID-19 site.


Nedbank has expanded its relief measures and assistance for financially stressed clients to assist with overdrafts, home loans and certain waivers to merchants during the Covid-19 pandemic. Visit www.nedbank.co.za.

SEFA Debt Restructuring Facility offers six-month pay holiday

Small businesses funded by the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) will be given a payment holiday for the next six months, with certain conditions. Visit www.smmesa.gov.za.