The Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) has partnered with Nedbank to empower 40 000 informal fruit and vegetable traders to help them to restart their businesses. In a total contribution of R40 million, qualifying traders will receive grants of R1000 each which they will use to buy stock. The initiative falls within the Department of Small Business Development’s (DSBD) Township and Rural Enterprises Programme (TREP) launched earlier this year.

The Minister of Small Business Development, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said since March 2020, the Department has launched support schemes for small businesses to help alleviate the negative impact of the pandemic. She said these includes the Township and Rural Entrepreneurship programme (TREP), which focuses on helping enterprises based in townships and rural areas, and micro and informal businesses to restart, rebuild and improve their businesses. She said this forms part of the reconstruction and recovery of the South African economy.

She also explained that  the  TREP seeks to stimulate the economy through focused financial and business development support geared towards informal traders and micro businesses based in the villages, townships and peri-urban areas (also known as small dorpies).

According to the Group Managing Executive of Nedbank’s Retail and Business Banking, Mr Ciko Thomas, while most conversations around the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis focus on the formal economy, the devastation on the informal sector has been enormous. He said even though the informal sector often operates on a subsistence level, it is just as vital to the economic recovery that needs to take place in the wake of the pandemic. He also added that financial service providers in both the public and private sector have the ability to jumpstart this important job creator.

The DSBD has worked together with Nedbank to find a simple, ease and cost-effective mechanism to disburse the grant money, using mobile wallets. Traders seeking support can apply for the grant by following two key steps:

Firstly, registering on the National SMME website for small business funding and complete the online form. Key requirements are South African ID and valid municipal trading permit.

Upon successful registration, each trader will be directed to apply for the grant by dialling *120*001# and select option 6 “Apply” from their mobile phones and follow the easy prompts to finish off the application.

Successful applicants will receive R1,000 which will be deposited into their mobile wallet, a Nedbank MobiMoney account, which is automatically generated as part of the account application process. MobiMoney is a mobile-based account that anyone with a valid South African identity number can open from anywhere, within seconds using a mobile phone

From these wallets, traders will be able to pay fresh produce suppliers directly from their wallet, without needing to withdraw money. Fresh produce suppliers will be enabled to accept mobile wallets payments through Masterpass.

Nedbank has demonstrated a sustained commitment to supporting Government in assisting vulnerable communities in the wake of the pandemic, through its robust and flexible financial tools. Shortly after the start of the national lockdown, the bank announced that it would help the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) with the implementation of the special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grants announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“Getting relief to people on the ground can be a challenging task. We, therefore, remain committed to providing the most relevant entry-level banking tools to offer consumers the benefits of formal banking at a minimal cost to them, even saving them time and resources,” said Thomas.

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