by John Henning

The Oppenheimer family has announced details of how South African businesses can apply for a slice of the R1 billion they have donated to help during the coronavirus crisis. 

The money will be paid out directly as interest-free loans to employees of businesses with a turnover of less than R25 million a year. Employees themselves will not be liable to pay the money back, but companies will be. 

The reason for choosing this approach is to allow SMMEs who are suffering from short-term cashflow constraints to continue operations during this time of crisis, whilst retaining their employees. We wish to allow them much-needed breathing room to make sustainable, long-term decisions for their future. 

The money will be distributed via the Oppenheimers’ newly-created South African Future Trust (SAFT). It is expected that the typical loan amount per employee will be around R750/week, for a period of 15 weeks. 

The loans will be interest-free for a five-year period. “If businesses are unable to repay the loan, SAFT will work closely with SMMEs to ensure that repayment plans are in place which are sustainable for the business concerned.” 

The Oppenheimer family and businesses won’t receive any money back from the SAFT, which will operate as a public benefit organisation. “Once the need for a short-term financing facility has passed, funds will be used to support initiatives with a focus on employment creation in South Africa until all funds are ultimately disbursed.” 

Currently, the money is available to clients of Absa, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank and limited to businesses which were “financially sustainable” before the coronavirus crisis. 

Businesses will be able to apply directly with their banks from Friday, April 3. For more details, go to https://opp-gen.com/saft. 

The Oppenheimers said that they are currently working with other banks to extend the scheme. 

The four big banks have waived their normal fees to manage the SAFT scheme. 

The SAFT funds can be found here: 

a. https://www.standardbank.co.za/southafrica/business/covid-19/south- 

african-future-trust b. https://www.nedbank.co.za/content/nedbank/desktop/gt/en/business/covid- 

19-relief1/SAFT1.html c. https://www.absa.co.za/personal/covid-19/south-african-future-trust/ d. FNB Nothing yet. 

From what we can tell you are entitled to claim from multiple schemes as well as UIF. We will perform more investigation in this regard to confirm exactly what the situation is. 

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