HERMANUS SIYAKHA ON HOLD
How have small informal businesses responded to the lockdown? The information coming from Hermanus Siyakha, the non-profit organization that provides mentoring and interest-free loans, provides some insight into the situation. Of the 31 businesses that received loans, all [d1] [d2] have been unable to trade under the stringent lockdown conditions, and the majority took advantage of the loan repayment moratorium. A small number, however, managed to continue with loan repayments, [d3] either using their savings or income from other sources. [d4] One business owner whose coffee shop and peanut butter manufacturing operation could not continue, in true entrepreneurial spirit successfully switched to cooking and delivering pizzas.
Due to the prohibition on movement the more than 20 Hermanus Siyakha mentors have maintained contact with business owners via cell phone or WhatsApp in order to encourage and support them in this difficult time. Zelda Malunda, who sells clothes, shoes, cosmetics as well as bedding and linen, says: “My business came to a stand-still under lockdown and Jo Carruthers is my mentor, my motivator, she is my everything. She is always so positive and that helps me…”
Emergency financial assistance has been made available by Hermanus Siyakha to those in greatest humanitarian [d5] need and small interest-free loans will be offered to selected[d6] business owners once level 3 commences.
Although it is envisaged that Hermanus Siyakha will not be able to process new loan applications until much later in the year, the organization is positioning itself for the “new normal”. It is currently in a sound financial position with many lenders indicating that their loans can be considered as non-refundable grants or rolled-over for new loans; nearly all the mentors are able to continue and a number of new mentors are waiting in the wings. The post- lockdown mentoring model will adhere to strict health requirements.[d7] Expenses have been dramatically reduced and the Hermanus Siyakha committee is actively planning for the time when new loan applications can be considered.
We want to thank all our financial supporters, our mentors and volunteers who continue to help run the organization in these very challenging times. The need for mentoring support and access to interest-free loans for small informal businesses is going to increase in the future, and we want to ensure that Hermanus Siyakha is positioned to continue offering this support. Anyone interested in the work of Hermanus Siyakha can keep abreast of developments via the website www.HermanusSiyakha.org.za .
[d1]This of course excludes William’s pizza outlet which we did finance.
[d2]None of the HS businesses have been able to function, with the exception of William Chiwara’s pizza outlet in Kleinmond, which we did not finance
[d3]The few that have continued repaying loans are doing so out of either different income streams or savings.
[d4]Eg. Domestic work or assistance from supportive community members.
[d5]An important criteria
[d6]We need to be clear that tis is not for all
[d7]This is the point which many mentors have voiced their concern about and which I made yesterday. We need to demonstrate that we have heard them.