Covid and riot-hit SMEs #getbacktobusiness

 

While small businesses across KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng were counting the cost of July’s riots, compounded by the ongoing economic impact of COVID-19, comparison platform Hippo.co.za, together with East Coast Radio and 947, ran an initiative to help those SMEs get back to business by contributing R250 000 capital to rebuild.

 

From 2 to 13 August 2021, Hippo.co.za ran a two-week radio campaign where 10 small businesses – five in KwaZulu-Natal and five in Gauteng – each won R20,000 in cash as well as R5,000 towards their Business Fibre needs.

 

“Our vision is to help people make better choices,” says Hippo.co.za CEO Bradley Du Chenne. “For us to live this vision, we also need to make good choices as a business. One way in which we do this is through community initiatives where there is a need due to unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances. In our #getbacktobusiness campaign we were looking to help small enterprises, with solid business models, which were – through no fault of their own – negatively impacted by the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. Many SMEs saw their entire physical infrastructure destroyed during the looting and we wanted to help them rebuild.”

 

In KZN those SMEs included the five East Coast Radio winners: Rams Corner Butchery, which was unable to open during the unrest and lost its fresh stock; Astral Marketing and Services, whose facilities were destroyed; Duma Wines, which was already reeling from the effects of the national restrictions on alcohol sales; Ekasi Bioscope, which was also already battling to operate its mobile cinema during lockdown; and Impukane Gardening Services, whose tools were stolen during the looting.

 

“I feel truly grateful and blessed,” said Astral Marketing and Services owner Theshan Naidoo. “The past 12 to 16 months have been very emotionally, physically and mentally draining due to the financial impact of COVID-19 as well as the civil unrest. It felt like hurdle after hurdle, adversity after adversity. However, just when I needed it the most for the business, a door of blessings opened to get us back on our feet again. One day Astral will do the same for other businesses.”

 

In Gauteng, the five winners of the 94.7 #getbacktobusiness campaign were air conditioning company Dice and Christinah, whose only delivery vehicle was damaged by looters; marketing company Mamphego Phasha Studios, who lost all their creative work when their computer equipment was stolen; Aladia’s Kitchen, who had to close during lockdown; and Ele Brave and Daswa Electronics, both of whom saw their premises completely looted during the riots.

 

“We are absolutely ecstatic to get this financial assistance,” says Aladia Mahomed of Aladia’s Kitchen. “It’s been really tough, and this is a real blessing. We had to close for trade, and this resulted in loss of sales. In order to avoid short-paying or cutting back on staff, I had to hold back supplier payments. This resulted in no stock, empty fridges and no food production.”

 

“The recent unrest really hit me because I have to restart from scratch,” says Ele Brave owner Sicelo Ndlovu. “They looted and damaged the equipment in the office, this included buying new computers, a printer, stationery and other office equipment.”

 

“For many businesses, the recent riots and looting were a costly reminder of how unpredictable life can be,” says Du Chenne. “While business insurance is sometimes seen as a ‘grudge’ purchase, you cannot afford to operate without it. We strongly encourage businesses of all sizes – big or small – to compare business insurance quotes to ensure they have the right cover at the right price.”