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SA Chamber of Commerce (UK) calls on members and businesses to support South African SMMEs

(Partner Content) The businesses are being asked to help South African SMMEs survive the economic effects of the recent pandemic.


Image via Adobe Stock

In the UK, there is the economic depth for help to be offered to SMMEs, and help ensure a rapid recovery once the crisis passes. In South Africa, the landscape is somewhat different.

Why South Africa needs help

The South African government does not have the means to offer equivalent support. South Africans abroad are aware of the risks the virus poses to the health of South Africans and to the economy. However, the eagerness to help is often met with a lack of understanding of how to do so. 

How you can help

The UK is three weeks ahead of South Africa in terms of the pandemic, but South Africa is ahead of the UK in terms of the implementation of measures to prevent the spread of the disease and lessen the economic impact.

The SA Chamber is about membership, it is about providing an environment for networking and learning. Given that the UK is in lockdown and practising social distancing, Britons are doing what they can to prevent the spread of the virus in the UK. However, businesses and individuals have been called upon to help South African colleagues, friends and families understand the importance of reducing the impact on South Africa and its citizens.

Practical measures to help SMMEs

The pace of global change at the moment is exponential so the Chamber will be providing up-to-date links to official sources of information from both countries, particularly concerning resources available to businesses and their employees to support them through this crisis. 

There are some useful links here, which will be continuously updated.

The Chamber is calling for members, all UK companies with South African connections and South African business and individuals to support South African SMMEs. Those that are customers, those within supply chains, and those that support local communities – all need to survive to continue to add value to the economy and be able to support themselves and their dependents financially.

The SA Chamber will be moving some of its cancelled events online, bringing them to life in the form of webinars, online social gatherings and support groups where ideas can be shared and some of the pressure of isolation can be spared. 

While the South African government is setting up some support funds through the Department of Small Business Development, there are a few simple, reliable and practical steps that suppliers, customers and the community can take to support their continued successful existence.


• Show forbearance and extend longer credit

• Allow for different order sizes, and smaller, more frequent orders


• Pay suppliers in full, on time, as quickly as possible to help their cash flow

• Commit to future work now and pay in advance

• Pay more regularly

• If you have scope, increase capacity to order more


• If SMMEs are integral to your business, your community or yourself, consider what day to day support and help you can provide – help with deliveries, sourcing stock for them etc.

• Work with the SMME community to help them access government or bank funding

• Set up a local fund (a bit like stokvel) to support SMME’s and the most vulnerable

• Work together to bring goods, supplies, food to the vulnerable or needy

• Find work or tasks that others can do for you from their home

• Help all to understand the importance of social distancing

Because the South African economy is more vulnerable, a higher percentage of the population falls into the vulnerable category, and the social risks are higher, this crisis cannot be ignored, it is not somebody else’s problem.

While the world will recover, it is essential to protect businesses and communities from failing such that recovery is feasible and rapid.