COVID-19 Funds & Support | The Planner

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been devastating; not only to human lives, but also in how the measures necessary to slow its spread are threatening the economic viability of businesses, and will likely result in job losses.

The good news, however, is that governments, businesses and non-profit organizations are acutely aware of this second threat, and much is being done to provide economic relief and support to those who need it. While this list is not exhaustive, it does give some good ideas of avenues that you can pursue if you find yourself in this position.

If you know of any more funds or programmes that we have left off and which you think should be included here, please let us know by sending an email to

Also, remember to speak to your bank to find out what they can do to assist you at this time, as an individual or a company.


COVID-19 Business Rescue Assistance (COBRA)

The COBRA War Room is a pro bono service for South African businesses in distress. IQbusiness, Schindlers Attorneys, Engaged Business Turnaround, Sirdar Group, Envision Advisory Services, Agility and Adept Advisory have come on board to provide their extensive legal, accounting, technology and business turnaround expertise to help businesses in financial distress – as a result of coronavirus and or other factors.

National Small Business Chamber (NSBC): The COVID-19 Small Business Relief Centre
The COVID-19 Small Business Relief Centre is working to help everyone stay in business, whether with critical information and advice (such as how to create a business continuity plan, and implement hygiene protocols and new staff policies), or to campaign on your behalf (for example to encourage provides to offer low-interest disaster recovery loans, or negotiating with landlords and suppliers).

SARS COVID-19 Small Business Tax Relief Measures

Click here to download a leaflet issued by SARS, detailing the COVID-19 tax relief measures that have been instituted as per the draft Disaster Management Tax Relief Administration Bill, and Disaster Management Tax Relief Bill to help Small, Micro, or Medium Enterprises (SMMEs).


The COVID-19 UIF TERS benefit has been extended by six weeks, until 15 August 2020.

The benefit structure and existing criteria remain the same. Applications for April and May will be closed by the end of July 2020, although applications already received for these two months will be processed. More information can be found at

Department of Small Business Development: Debt Relief Finance Scheme

The Department of Small Business Development is providing financial relief packages for small, medium and micro enterprises that have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications open from 02 April 2020.

Who can apply

South African owned SMMEs.

Qualifying criteria

  • The business must have been registered with CIPC by at least 28 February 2020;
  • Company must be 100% owned by South African Citizens;
  • Employees must be 70% South Africans;
  • Priority will be given to businesses owned by Women, Youth and People with Disabilities;
  • Be registered and compliant with SARS and UIF;
  • Registration on the National SMME Database:;
  • Proof that the business is negatively affected by COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Complete the simplified online application platform;
  • Company Statutory Documents;
  • FICA documents (e.g. Municipal accounts, letter from traditional authority);
  • Certified ID Copies of Directors;
  • 3 months Bank Statements;
  • Latest Annual Financial Statements or Latest Management Accounts not older than three months from date of application – where applicable;
  • Business Profile;
  • 6 months Cash Flow Projections – where applicable;
  • Copy of Lease Agreement or Proof ownership if applying for rental relief;
  • If applying for payroll relief, details of employees – as registered with UIF and including banking details – will be required as payroll payments will be made directly to employees;
  • SMME employers who are not compliant with UIF must register before applying for relief;
  • Facility Statements of Other Funders;
  • Detail breakdown on application of funds including salaries, rent etc.

How to apply

Applicants need to register on the website and complete the online application form here: All supporting documentation needs to be uploaded with this.

SEDA will assist micro-enterprises to comply and request for assistance must be emailed to:, whereas small and medium enterprises must ensure own compliance.


Department of Tourism: Tourism Relief Funding

The Department of Tourism has made R200 million available to SMMEs in all the 9 provinces and various tourism sub-sectors. Read more about this here.

Applications will be accepted from 07 April to 30 May 2020.

Who can apply

  • Accommodation: Hotels; Resort properties and Bed and Breakfast (B&B’s).
  • Hospitality and Related Services: Restaurants (not attached to hotels); Conference (not attached to hotels), Professional catering; Attractions.
  • Travel and Related Services: Tour operators; Travel agents; Tourist guides; Car rental companies; and Coach Operators.

Qualifying criteria

  • Must be a formally registered business with Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC);
  • Turnover must not exceed R2.5 million per year;
  • Must have a valid tax clearance certificate;
  • Guaranteed employment for a minimum number of staff for a period of 3 months;
  • Proof of minimum wage compliance;
  • Must provide proof of UIF registration for employees employed by the business;
  • Be an existing tourism-specific establishment as outlined in the scope of application (suppliers and intermediaries are not eligible);
  • Must be in existence for at least one business financial year;
  • Prove that the relief is required as a result of the impact of COVID-19;
  • Must submit statements of financial position: over 12 months’ bank statement, balance sheet, income statements, cash flow statements;
  • Indicate the intended use of the resources.

How to apply

Complete the online Tourism Relief Fund application form here. Once submitted, you will receive a dedicated Reference Number for future correspondence and tracking.

The Department of Tourism has established a Tourism Services Call Centre where affected businesses can get information on the available relief measures, postponements of events and will act as a helpline for tourists. It is operational daily from 08:00 to 22:00. Call: 0860 TOURISM (868 8747) or email:

Commonly asked questions and their answers can be viewed here.

An example of a Tourism Relief Fund Agreement between the Department and a Beneficiary can be found here.


South Africa Future Trust (SAFT)

SAFT was established by Nicky and Jonathan Oppenheimer, and is making R1bn in loan funding available for the employees of SMMEs.

SAFT will transfer funds directly to employees of participating SMMEs, via interest-free loans where employees themselves carry no liability. The aim behind this is to enable SMMEs to significantly reduce their cash outgoings and continue operations during this time of crisis, while retaining their employees – affording these companies much-needed breathing room to make long-term decisions.

Applications will be taken from 03 April 2020. Loans will be extended to eligible SMMEs on a first-come-first-served basis.

Who can apply

The scheme is available to SMMEs whose businesses were financially sustainable prior to the COVID-19 crisis, and who are clients of these four banks: ABSA, FirstRand Bank, Nedbank and Standard Bank. SAFT is working hard to extend this partnership to other banking institutions and invites their participation.

Qualifying criteria

  • Annual turnover below R25m;
  • Trading for at least 24 months;
  • Had a sustainable business on 29 February 2020;
  • Business has been adversely impacted by COVID-19.

How to apply

SMMEs should register their interest directly via their bank, which needs to be one of the banks listed above.

You will need to supply:

  • Company identification
  • PAYE number
  • Income tax number
  • Employment status