Private equity and venture capital industry pledges over 1 100 hours to assist SMMEs

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South African businesses are facing the battle of their lives. To ensure as many companies as possible survive the COVID-19 economic crisis, the Southern African Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (SAVCA) has launched a small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) support platform in collaboration with is membership network, which consist of professionals who manage over R175bn in assets. 

Tanya van Lill, SAVCA CEO, says the platform will provide SMMEs with access to industry professionals for free advice on managing the challenges they face in the wake of COVID-19. “We have called on our members to donate hours from staff who have capacity and specialist skills that companies may need, such as legal, accounting, supply chain and industry specific skills, to name a few.

“SAVCA is proud to report that over 1100 hours have already been pledged to the platform thus far – a number we are certain will continue to rise over the coming days,” says van Lill, who notes that the full list of support on offer is available on SAVCA’s online COVID-19 portal.

“SAVCA will facilitate all requests, matching them with support offered by members. This unique support network will therefore be available to all South African SMMEs – not only SAVCA members’ investee companies – that find themselves in dire need of support as a result of this crisis.”

While ensuring that the industry will do all it can to support companies in need, van Lill acknowledges that this alone will not be enough. “It is going to take urgent, considerable and coordinated support from both the public and private sectors to make it to the other side of this crisis,” she says.

Shelley Lotz, SAVCA’s Head of Regulatory Affairs and project manager for the SMME support initiative, echoes this sentiment, adding that all South Africans have a role to play in supporting the wider economy in whichever way possible during this critical time. “South Africa needs as many businesses as possible to weather the COVID-19 pandemic and to emerge ready to (re)start contributing to the economy as soon as possible.

“Whilst this imperative is important in developed markets, it is even more vital in a country like South Africa where our unemployment rate, even before the pandemic, was one of the highest in the world,” says Lotz.

To utilise the support platform, all SMME’s will be required to provide company details, basic financial information, and employee numbers, as well as upload supporting documentation which could be used for verification purposes during the application process. SAVCA will use the information to:

1)      Determine if the criteria have been met i.e. business sustainability prior to COVID-19; and

2)      Match the SMME with an appropriate SAVCA member who has volunteered hours.

SAVCA will then fulfil a facilitation and co-ordination role overseeing the system design and implementation, says Lotz. “We’ll also be looking to expand the volunteer programme beyond our membership base in due course, so watch this space. 

“In addition to this, SAVCA has initiated a page on its website aimed at providing resources and tools aligned to the effect and impact of Covid-19,” she adds.

“We would like to thank the SAVCA members who have heeded the call to respond to this crisis and assist SMMEs in facing their challenges head on during this difficult time,” says van Lill. “While we know that the road ahead is a long one – now is the time to stand together as a nation,” she concludes.   

For more information on the new SMME support platform, email covid19support@savca.co.za or access the portal viahttps://covid-19.savca.co.za/