The Covid-19 or Corona Virus pandemic is wreaking havoc around the world.  Employers and employees are wrought with anxiety about the future of business and the future of employment, respectively.  Fortunately, enough government and philanthropic organisations are playing their part to assist during these dark times.  This article will discuss two such endeavours that aim to keep your business doors open in times of need.


  1. The “Debt relief scheme” a project of the Department of Small Business and Development in South Africa. 

This scheme is aimed at aiding, specifically the Small Medium and Micro Business Enterprises (SMME’s).  The Debt relief scheme will assist businesses that are affected directly or indirectly due to the Corona Virus pandemic to mitigate against job losses and the expected harsh economic consequences that are common to business during these trying times.


The qualifying criteria for relief under the Debt relief scheme are as follows:

  • The SMME must be registered with the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC)
  • The company must be fully owned by South African citizens, and the staff compliment must be seventy percent South African citizens.
  • Importantly the SMME must be registered with the South African Revenue Service as well as the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
  • The Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) will assist micro-enterprises to comply. Requests for assistance must be emailed to


  • The Debt relief scheme will require proof that the business is negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as:
  • Company Statutory Documents.
  • Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) documents.
  • 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.
  • Detailed breakdown on application of funds including salaries, rental and other expenses.

Applications for the Debt relief scheme will be made online where the employer will have to register at  Applications will be allowed from the 2 April 2020.


  1. The South African Future Trust (SAFT)

The SAFT is a ground-breaking initiative from philanthropists Nicky and Johnathan Oppenheimer. The mission and vision of the SAFT is to provide much-needed assistance to employees who will be battling with the negative effects that the Corona Virus will have on employment and income during the period of National Lockdown.  The SAFT has generously pledged R1 billion for relief.


The SAFT also prioritises SMME’s during this difficult period.  The SAFT will work by transferring funds in the form of interest-free loans directly to employees via their banking partners which at this stage include First National Bank, Standard Bank of South Africa, Amalgamated Bank of South Africa (ABSA) and Nedbank.


According to the SAFT, employees bear no liability for these loans as these funds will have to be paid back by employers.  Employers will have to make applications directly to the bank of their choice and submit all information and supporting documents on behalf of employees to the banks.  To be eligible for assistance by the SAFT, the following criteria must be satisfied:

  • The SMME must have an annual turnover of less than twenty-five million Rands.
  • The SMME must be trading for at least twenty-four months.
  • The SMME must be declared a sustainable business as at the 29 February 2020.
  • Proof that the SMME has been adversely affected by the Corona Virus pandemic.
  • The required documents are the following:
  • Company Identification documents
  • Company registration number (in the case of a close corporation or company)
  • Masters office registration number (in the case of a trust)
  • Identification number of the responsible person as well as the company address.
  • PAYE number
  • Income Tax number
  • Confirmation of permanent employment of the employee (this is usually proved by a contract of employment or appointment letter.)


In order to achieve its aims, SAFT ensures that all loans are interest-free and will be the obligation of the employer to pay back after five years of the loan being granted.  The SAFT is a Public Benefit Organisation and as such does not make any profit from providing these loans.  The ultimate decision to grant loans will rest with the partner banks who will either authorise or refuse the loan application.


During difficult times it is refreshing to acknowledge that assistance is being provided by government and philanthropic organisations.  Consolidated Employers Organisation is also here to inform you of the most recent developments and to provide expert advice on your employment concerns.  Please feel free to contact us via telephone, social media and email to allow us to assist you.