Absa’s partnership with SAFT shows commitment to SMMEs

In a sign of unwavering support for Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs), communities and the economy at large, Absa has partnered with the South African Future Trust (SAFT) to administer the disbursement of funds to SMME employees whose income will be impacted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SAFT was established by Nicky and Jonathan Oppenheimer who pledged R1 billion to mitigate the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis by protecting jobs during this time. This followed after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a lockdown period of 21 days in South Africa, a vital and necessary effort to curb the spread of the disease, but one that will have a profound impact on many businesses.

Absa, together with three other South African banks, will take responsibility for administering the scheme. SMME clients of these banks will be invited to apply for support from SAFT from Friday, 3 April 2020.

“Absa is committed to supporting initiatives that alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses, who provide employment to millions of people whose jobs would otherwise be threatened by this pandemic,” said Bongiwe Gangeni, Deputy CE of Absa Retail and Business Bank (RBB SA).

Absa SMME clients with a turnover of less than R25 million per year, in good health, but with short-term cash flow constraints due to COVID-19 and who have been trading for at least 24 months will be eligible. Sectors that have been critically impacted by COVID-19 include tourism, hospitality, manufacturing and services. Businesses will be able to apply for a five-year interest-free loan from SAFT to give their employees a lifeline to buy the essentials they need to survive through the crisis.

“Keeping people employed through this crisis has to be a priority for all of us. Absa is committed to doing what it can to mitigate the devastating socio-economic impact of this disease,” Gangeni said.

In the long run, any funds donated to the structure will be redeployed towards accelerating economic growth and employment creation in South Africa.

“We are grateful to be working with SAFT to facilitate the disbursement of funds to our SMME clients’ employees. Absa has also committed to a broad range of relief mechanisms to support businesses and individuals and we will continue to find different ways of playing a contributing role during this time of crisis,” she added.

For more information on how to apply, visit www.absa.co.za/personal/covid-19/south-african-future-trust