COVID-19 SME Support Guide: How to Grow During a Crisis

COVID-19 SME Support Guide: How to Grow During a Crisis

Are you unsure about how to run your business during COVID-19?

You aren’t alone.

Business owners tell us they’re feeling uncertain about the future.

That’s why we partnered with the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) to create this Back to Business guide for South African SMEs.

You’ll find a collection of resources that will help you:

  • Develop a COVID-19 workplace plan
  • Boost your cashflow
  • Communicate with staff and customers
  • Market your SME during COVID-19

This guide is part of our Open for Business campaign, an initiative to help get your business again thriving during COVID-19.

For the full guide, click here. 

Open for Business will be supporting your business growth with:

  • Tools to help you assess and forecast your business trajectory
  • Content and guides to upskill and empower you
  • Extra marketing support from our in house team
  • Fast and flexible access to business funding

For more on the Open for Business campaign, read this blog post

Want to increase your marketing? Submit your SME to our Open for Business listing. It’s free and takes only a few minutes. Add your business here.

Still need help getting back to business?

Here are a few Open for Business articles that might help you:

This Young Entrepreneur Will Inspire You to Take the Leap

This Young Entrepreneur Will Inspire You to Take the Leap

Back in primary school, as her classmates jostled all around her on the playground, Boitumelo Moroe was getting ready to start her first business.

“From a young age, I fully understood the value of money and profit. I was that school girl always finding something to sell, from cupcakes, lemonade to beads.”

But, after matriculating, Moroe stepped away from entrepreneurship and followed a more traditional path: enrolling in university and earning her degree.

Once she graduated, Moroe started working a corporate job.

Up until that moment, Moroe’s career embodied modern, professional success: she had a great position in a big corporate and all the benefits it provided.

But it wasn’t long before she realised she could no longer ignore the yearning to go out on her own.

She was ready to take the leap.

“The desire to set my own limits and to get out of the comfort zone propelled me to be an entrepreneur. Armed with a vision and belief in thyself, I left the glamorous corporate world, and in a flash, I was back at it.”

That’s when Moroe founded ECU Express, an automotive electro-software company.

And she’s never looked back.

ECU Express specialises in the diagnostics, repairs, replacements, and programming of electronic control modules, the on-board computers in cars.

The company solves that universal problem shared by frustrated vehicle owners: finding quality parts at reasonable prices.

“We regard ourselves as the ‘vehicle gurus’—solving complex vehicle problems daily. Our aim is to offer affordable yet quality automotive solutions to our clientele by bridging the gap between expensive brand new products and parts bought from scrapyards, mostly with no guarantee. Our customer base ranges from dealers, workshops, bush mechanics to individuals.”

For Moroe, ECU Express is far more than just a business.

Her work is challenging, rewarding, and unpredictable, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“The thrill and challenges that come with being in the automotive software industry are second to none. I enjoy waking up and not knowing what direction my day is going to take. I enjoy being able to get my hands dirty (in a sophisticated way, of course), whilst wearing heels. I enjoy hearing an old lady saying that her car has started after it wasn’t running for eight months. I enjoy keeping abreast of the new developments made in automotive electro-software engineering and breaking new ground.”

Her advice for aspiring young entrepreneurs is simple:

Don’t delay your business dream.

“You are better off initially running with an idea than waiting for the perfect idea. That’s something I sometimes struggle with because of my perfectionist personality.”

She encourages young people to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions confidently.

Moroe admits this isn’t always easy in a world that frowns upon failure.

“With time and effort, the idea will turn into a good idea; and with continued passion, the good idea will turn into the perfect idea. It is OK to fail and make mistakes because through failure we are simply ‘failing forward’ one step at a time. As an entrepreneur, you need to continuously bulldoze your way in – be loud, be unashamed and grab what’s yours.”

Giving young people the tools they need to become successful entrepreneurs starts at school, said Moroe.

“I am a firm believer that quality education can alleviate poverty in our country and reduce the staggering youth unemployment rate of about 53%. Let’s start with the basics – our educational system should be equipping children with entrepreneurial skills while they’re still at school.”

She thinks of entrepreneurship as a safety net; a set of skills a person can draw on at any time to generate an income for themselves and their families.

“This would mean that should such children, at any point in their lives, find themselves unemployed, they don’t play the pity game but instead know how to use the opportunities around them and turn them into a business idea. The government has done well with the number of youth incubation programs and funding in place but more can always be done.”

Though society celebrates the lifestyles of entrepreneurs, it’s not always easy. But the rewards make it worth it, said Moroe.

“Whenever the going gets tough, I always remind myself how far I have come – from trying to prove my worth in a male-dominated industry and standing out whilst at it, to the sacrifices I’ve had to make – and how much further I am yet to go.”

There might be challenges along the way, but Moroe simply rejected failure as an option a long time ago.

“Once you make a decision to jump into the ocean, you can only stop swimming when you get to the shore—quitting is never an option. You need to soldier on and keep focused on the dream. It is vital for one to continuously reconnect with the vision, which is something I do daily with my morning chants.”

Trevor Gosling, Lulalend CEO and co-founder, said young people had an important role to play in growing the economy and adding jobs.

“Every day we see young people who are going out and changing the world. It’s up to us to give them the support they need to do that. That’s why we’re so proud to back young business owners like Boitumelo.”

COVID-19 SME Support: List Your Small Business for Free Today

COVID-19 SME Support: List Your Small Business for Free Today

These are difficult times for small business owners.

South African SMEs have taken a knock as the COVID-19 pandemic forced entire industries to shut down.

Now, we’ve always been huge supporters of the SME community.

Small business is important for our economy, and access to funding is their biggest hurdle.

That’s why we’ve been breaking down those barriers for the last five years with speed, tech, and a personal user experience.

We’re grateful to have built up a community of small business owners. And we’re all in this together.

Right now, we know business owners need our support now more than ever.

Open for Business

That’s why we’re on mission to getand keepyou Open for Business.

Open for Business is a drive to help South African businesses navigate the re-opening of their SMEs during COVID-19.

As part of our Open for Business campaign, we’ll be

  • Creating tools to help you assess and forecast your business trajectory
  • Developing content and guides to support you to learn new skills
  • Providing you with extra marketing support from our in-house team

Today, we’re launching this campaign with the first in a series of SME listings and stories from business owners across South Africa.

COVID-19 SME support: Business Listing

We’re sharing our platform with SMEs to help them gain exposure to other South Africans who want to support SMEs.

If you a small business owner, our Business Brightspot Blog gives you the ability to:

The Lulalend blog serves hundreds of thousands of page views each month/attracts thousands of visitors each month.

By linking to your site, we hope to help your site rank higher in Google, so your potential customers can find you during their online search.

We’ll be featuring a select few of these on our blog and others on our Lulalend Facebook page.

Register your business to be listed here

Business Brightspot blog stories

For our launch edition of this series, we’re excited to feature Lara Waters of Get Stuff Done and Jenny Classen of Ngaphaya Y2K10 (‘Beyond 2010’).

Get Stuff Done

About your business

It’s the admin help you need when all the filing and organising is getting completely out of hand. It’s the decluttering you need when you just can’t face those cupboards or that spare room on your own. And it’s the lifestyle management you need when your to-do list is just a headache waiting to happen.

It’s extra help, extra hands, and extra motivation, all designed to help you get stuff done in no time. All with a little sprinkle of fairy dust too.

How has your business changed (if at all) due to COVID-19?

Being on level 3, life is slowly getting back to normal once again.

But what is ‘normal’ anymore?

In the midst of all the madness, we’re still here, still sprinkling fairy dust, and still getting stuff done. It’s been a challenge under all the rules we’ve had to follow, but COVID-19 or no COVID-19, you can’t keep a good fairy down! That’s why we’ve been busy getting a whole lot done, like:

  • Virtual admin: Helping our clients remotely with admin needs like bookkeeping, typing, presentations, and more.
  • Decluttering: Packing up, clearing out, and helping our clients make space in their homes and in their lives.
  • Errands and concierge: Taking care of our clients’ personal and business needs, and giving them time for the more important things in life.
  • HR and recruitment: With our recruitment services back in full effect, we’ll be able to find the perfect candidate for any positions you may have vacant.

As you can see, no matter where you need support, either at home, at the office, or just with life in general, we’ll be there to get stuff done (while adhering to strict hygiene regulations and social distancing too, of course).

Want us to wave a magic wand over your life? Then just visit our website and take a look at our specials and packages, and our new video too. Contact us for a quote and then we’ll get to work, sprinkling fairy dust as we go!

Ngaphaya Y2K10

About your business

Ngaphaya Y2K10 is a Level 1 B-BBEE, 100% Female owned procurement and sourcing company. Our Quality Management System is ISO9001:2015 certified. This means all our systems and processes follow international standards for quality and safety.

Our scalable business model, which focuses on the client’s needs and service levels, has enabled us to grow a sustainable business over the past 11 years.

How has your business changed due to COVID-19?

As a result of COVID-19, we had to pivot our business. This meant expanding our product line and reselling products to affiliates.

We’re now offering a selection of COVID-19 Essentials, and we’re updating our website to sell these products online.

We started by understanding our clients’ needs. Most were focussed on COVID-19 products, like hand sanitizer, thermometers and, empty bottles.

We sell these products at a discounted rate to re-sellers who in turn can meet their client’s needs. So, in this way, we’re helping more SME owners earn an income and feed their families.

At the moment, we’re waiting for authorisation to sell the SARS-COV-2 Rapid Test. We do have a licence from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). I’m open to speaking with people who’d like to work with us to resell these tests once we have got the go-ahead from SAHPRA.

I’ve also looked at internal processes and how we can make these more efficient. We built our own order management system. And have started shifting this technology to the cloud. We hope to launch the app soon and this will allow us to offer this system to other companies.

We’re happy to work with other small business owners. Please contact me on / 083 4634 538 / 021534 0336 / 021534 0906. Or, try / 083 727 7231

Want to reach our community? Submit your story here

SA Business to Provide 1 Million Face Masks to Schoolchildren and Teachers

SA Business to Provide 1 Million Face Masks to Schoolchildren and Teachers

A South African SME is on a mission to get one million face shields to pupils and teachers across the country to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the nation’s schools.

This week, Cape Town-based online printing store, Webprinter Online Printing, distributed 15 000 face shields to 30 schools.

Peter Kohnert, managing director at Webprinter Online Printing, said the company developed its 1millionsmiles initiative to support the schools that most needed protective equipment.

“We wanted to help and saw nobody was thinking about the schools. We saw reports that up to 80% of schools had no protection, so we reached out to schools,” said Kohnert.

Through partnerships with its suppliers, Webprinter Online Printing produces the disposable face shields at a cost of R10.

“We will beat this crisis by standing together. Keeping our educators safe is critical, and our colourful disposable face shields have been specifically designed with them in mind. The shield provides much-needed protection while incorporating a clear window. This allows pupils to see the educator’s face which is an important aspect for effective teaching,” said the company in a statement on its website.

Donors have the option to sponsor a specific school. Or, they can make a cash donation and Webprinter Online Printing selects a school in need.

The shields are 100% locally produced, so the project helps to create jobs. Kohnert said the initiative was attracting support from international donors.

This initiative comes during a time of uncertainty about whether schools are ready to re-open after a two-month lockdown.

Initially, all schools were set to open on 1 June. However, Angie Motshekga, Basic Education Minister, postponed this to 8 June. The reason for the delay was because schools said they had not received protective equipment.

Days before schools were set to re-open, teachers tested positive for COVID-19 at two Western Cape schools. And teachers’ unions have called on their members not to return to school if they were not satisfied with the school’s protection measures.

In addition, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the wellbeing of children was critical.

In his weekly newsletter, the president said schools would only be allowed to re-open if children and teachers would be kept safe.

“As parents, teachers, governing bodies and government, we are in agreement that no school should re-open until all the necessary precautions are in place. There needs to be transparency about the level of preparedness of each of the schools. Everyone who is a key role player, be they a parent, a school governing body member, a teacher or a government official should be able to have the correct information about the state of preparedness of each school. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the learning environment is safe.”

Efforts like 1millionsmiles are an example of this kind of shared responsibility, said Trevor Gosling, Lulalend CEO and co-founder.

“It’s been encouraging to see small businesses, like Webprinter Online Printing, step forward to play a role in the response to COVID-19. We’re incredibly inspired by the team’s commitment to protecting schoolchildren and fighting the spread of coronavirus.”

Kohnert had a message for other organisations that wanted to help during the COVID-19 crisis:

“Anybody can help. Yes, we have this huge goal of 1 million people, but every little bit helps. We can all look around us. Every kind of SME can help in some way, and we’ll start to trigger a chain reaction. A lot of small steps is a lot better than two or three big steps.”

To donate, visit the 1millionsmiles website or its page on Thundafund.

COVID-19 SME Support: R4 billion Business Funding Gap

COVID-19 SME Support: R4 billion Business Funding Gap

South African SMEs asked government’s COVID-19 support scheme for over R4 billion to keep their doors open.

However, the Department of Small Business Development could only afford to award R513 million in the first round of its coronavirus SME support package.

Now, the department is working closely with the National Treasury to help SMEs survive the knock of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funds were part of the department’s Debt Relief scheme. At the end of last month, the department announced the first phase of the scheme had closed.

The department provided a report of the scheme:

  • Total number of applications received – 35 865
  • Total number of valid applications received – 14 451
  • Total number of applications approved – 1 497

Those 1 497 SMEs will receive R513 million.

SMEs need R3,6 billion for salaries

The difference between the number of the total number of applications and the number of valid, complete applications is because 21 414 applications were incomplete. Those incomplete applications will be referred to the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA). Then, SEDA will help small business owners complete their applications.

An assessment by the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) found there was a funding shortfall of R4.4 billion during the first phase of this coronavirus business funding support.

SEFA identified the key reasons SMEs needed funds:

“The balance of the 12 954 complete applications requires an estimated budget of R4.4 billion but a bulk of the applications require assistance with payment of salaries to the total value of R3.6 billion,” reads the department’s statement.

To help SMEs pay salaries, the department has teamed up with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).

This means SMEs that did qualify for the UIF’s COVID-19 SME fund will now be able to access support to pay salaries. Many small businesses did not meet the requirements “due to non- compliance”, says the department. One example of non-compliance is that SMEs owned money to the UIF.  They must agree to pay that debt to the UIF before they access the COVID-19 salaries support.

There was another category of SMEs seeking funds: businesses that only needed some support to get back on their feet. This group of SMEs required R800 million.

“The DSBD will commence direct engagements with these SMMEs to ensure dedicated support for these enterprises to go back to business as President Ramaphosa has announced the gradual re-opening of the economy…The DBSD will continue to engage with National Treasury on this funding gap that is still required to fund those who have already applied.”

The Debt Relief scheme was opened in April to provide working capital to SMEs that were affected by COVID-19.

The COVID-19 support was for the following purposes:

  • Salaries
  • Rental
  • Municipal bills

The department said it would release the names of the business who had applied on 29 May. But at the time of publishing this post on 1 June, this list was not yet available.

New COVID-19 support initiatives

Meanwhile, the Minister of Small Business Development announced new COVID-19 support schemes.

Here is an overview of these sector-specific schemes:

  • Small-scale bakeries and confectioneries support scheme: small businesses can apply for equipment finance or working capital
  • Informal and small-scale clothing and textile support scheme: open to seamstresses, designers, art designers, shoemakers, etc. SMEs can use the funding for new business opportunities, courses to improve key skills, and business credit
  • Automotive aftermarkets support: open to all auto mechanics, diesel fitters, panel beaters and spray painters. Funds can be used for working capital

These schemes include business development services too, like trade tests. For more detail on the qualifying SMEs in each category, see the full press release here.

You can find application forms for these COVID-19 support schemes here.