South Africa recently witnessed a bout of civil unrest that led to the destruction of infrastructure, looting, and violence that severely impacted many small and medium businesses and informal traders in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
“Telkom has heeded the call to help clean up, rebuild, and grow SA by launching the SME Relief Project,” the partly state-owned firm said in a statement.
The Telkom SME Relief fund, currently valued at R10-million ($605K), is aimed at providing aid to small business owners to rebuild their businesses and to urge South Africans and the private sector to rally behind SMEs.
“Small enterprises are crucial to SA’s economic growth and employ between 50% to 60% of the labour workforce,” Telkom says.
Telkom Business Customers
More than 11,000 Telkom Business customers have been severely impacted by the unrest and Telkom says it is committed to helping these businesses rebuild and stay connected.
“Telkom customers in the affected areas will receive support in the form of payment holidays, rerouting their connectivity and the freezing of contract terms. These relief packages will enable our existing customers in the affected areas to continue to operate,” says Dumisani Bengu, Chief Commercial Officer of Telkom Business.
Telkom Business has earmarked to fix business premises of businesses in KZN and in Gauteng that have been ravaged as a result of the unrest and looting. Each selected business will receive a contribution of up to R20,000 ($1306.38) to help rebuild their business.
Telkom Business will conduct a vetting process to identify the SMEs in need of assistance to fix their business premises.
Telkom Connects SA
“The looting and unrest came at a time when many SMEs are still reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and some small businesses are uninsured. We understand the importance of backing small business owners during this time of distress and we will use our resources across our business units to ensure that small businesses get back up,” says Bengu.
“Telkom aims to lend a hand to small businesses and informal traders, Telkom will make a branding contribution of over R5.6-million and LTE offerings to 1,200 spaza shops in affected areas.”
Telkom Financial Services will assist with mobile point-of-sale devices and loan propositions to businesses in the affected areas to allow them to resume trading.
Furthermore, Telkom Consumer will be collaborating with its brand ambassadors to help them identify businesses that were affected by the unrest in their community or industry, to adopt and support.
Seipati “Twasa” Seoke and Zizo Tshwete will focus on Gauteng-based businesses while Dudu Khoza and Selby Mkhize will lend their help in the KZN province. They will support 20 businesses with 100GB of data over 6 months.
Telkom’s Pledge to Rebuild SMEs
“Restoring communities and businesses that have been impacted by the unrest is a collective effort and Telkom is committed to helping SMEs to clean up, rebuild and grow. We urge leading corporates, businesses, and ordinary South Africans to make a pledge to help rebuild small businesses that have been devastated by the unrest,” the company says.
Businesses in need of funding will be able to register here. South Africans can also use this online portal to make their pledges to assist small businesses.
Telkom customers can also pledge by donating airtime or data. All the collected data and airtime will be redistributed to affected businesses.
“In the aftermath of the unrest, government, business and communities are assessing the damage and are focusing on rebuilding communities that have been severely affected. We also urge responsible corporate leaders in SA, to support affected micro and small businesses and help them weather this period; rebuild and grow.” Bengu concluded.
To find out how you can help a small business owner near you, click here.