The COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdown have had a tremendous impact on small businesses. Many SME’s found themselves in crisis without the necessary financial safety net. Non-essential companies have had to cease operations while essential products or services businesses struggled to keep heads above water.  

The government has implemented funding relief measure to help small businesses through these tough times. The president announced the funding relief measures during the economic and social relief national address. put together a funding directory to guide you when seeking COVID-19 relief funding for your business. Here is a summary of how you can apply for relief: 

Debt Relief Finance Scheme

The Department of Small Business Development has made a Debt Relief Fund of R500 million available. The fund is to assist businesses which were directly or indirectly negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The qualifying criteria are as follows:

  • The company must be registered with CIPC by at least February 28 2020
  • Must be 100% owned by South African citizens 
  • 70% of employees must be South African
  • Priority granted to businesses owned by women, youth and people with disabilities 
  • Have to be registered and compliant with SARS and UIF
  • Seda will assist micro-enterprises in complying. Request for assistance must be emailed to [email protected]
  • Small and medium enterprises must ensure their compliance 
  • Registration on the national SMME database at
  • Proof that the business is negatively affected by the Coronavirus pandemic 
  • Complete the online application
  • Company statutory documents
  • FICA documents like municipal accounts and letter from traditional authority
  • Certified ID copies of directors 
  • Three-month bank statement 
  • Latest annual financial statements or latest management accounts not older than three months from date of application – where applicable
  • Business profile
  • Six months cash flow projections – where applicable 
  • Copy of lease agreement if applying or proof of ownership, if applying for rental relief
  • If applying for payroll relief, details of employees – as registered with UIF including bank 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 the application of funds, including salaries, rent, etc. 
  • Register here
  • Complete the online application
  • Upload required supporting document 

Business Growth/ Resilience Facilities

The difference with this fund is that its geared towards SME’s that are manufacturing essential goods and with the national lockdown have had to increase production. The Business Growth/Resilient Fund is to help businesses improve their output to meet demand. 

  • Register here
  • Complete the online application with the supporting documents listed above in the Debt Relief Finance Scheme

The South African Future Trust (SAFT) Known as the Oppenheimer Family Fund

This fund aims to support small and medium enterprises that are financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The qualifying criteria are as follows:

  • Operating for 12 months
  • The assistance will be a loan at prime -5%; repayment terms will be decided on an individual basis based on the cash flow projections
  • The directors and the business must have a good credit score
  • The maximum amount that companies can apply for is R15 million, but it’s willing to look at working capital requirements of less than R200 000
  • Business trading for 12 months plus
  • Annual turnover of less than R25 million
  • Must have been a sustainable business on February 29, 2020
  • Adversely affected by Covid-19
  • Company registration documents
  • A valid PAYE number registered with SARS (if applicable)
  • A valid income tax number registered with SARS
  • Confirmation of permanent employment status of staff
  • Application process:

The Department of Tourism

The government made R200 million available. This fund is for businesses in the tourism industry, like hotels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, guest houses, lodges and backpackers. 

Hospitality-related services like restaurants that are not attached to hotels, free-standing conference venues, professional catering services and attractions. As well as travel and related services such as tour operators, travel agents, tour guiding, car rental companies, and coach operators. The qualifying criteria are as follows:

  • Turnover of less than R5 million
  • Businesses in accommodation, hospitality, services within the tourism industry
  • Financial statements
  • Negatively impacted by COVID-19
  • Operating for at least one year or more

Property Industry Group: Retail tenants relief package

This fund aims to help large retail tenants who have been affected the most by the COVID-19 lockdown. The fund amount is estimated to be between R2 billion and R3 billion. The qualifying criteria are as follows:

  • Retail tenants in good standing at February 29, 2020
  • Retailers in office or industrial parks qualify
  • No funding will be given for rates and taxes, utilities and insurance
  • The relief is offered in the form of a rental discount or deferral for April and May
  • Annual turnover of less than R80 million
  • Aims to avoid retrenching staff during the relief period
  • Apply via landlord

National Empowerment Fund (NEF): Black Business Fund

The Black Business Fund provides funding for black entrepreneurs to manufacture medical products to help flatten the Coronavirus curve. The government has made R200 million available for this fund. The qualifying criteria are: 

  • Be a registered legal entity in South Africa in terms of the Companies Act, 2008 (as amended); the Close Corporations Act, 1984 or the Co-operatives Act, 2005
  • Be a taxpayer in good standing with a valid tax clearance certificate at assessment and before the loan is disbursed
  • Be a current and registered supplier with retailers and other institutions in good standing or have a purchase order/contract/letter of intent
  • Require working capital or funds to purchase machinery and equipment
  • The fund will not service any debt or help settle monies owed
  • Have greater than 50% black shareholding and management control. Must be directly involved in the day-to-day running of the operation and must have the requisite expertise in the sector
  • In line with the NEF’s transformation mandate, preference will be given to applications that demonstrate meaningful black women ownership, management and control
  • Have a project with a minimum requirement of R500 000 in working capital, machinery and equipment
  • Must result in retaining or increasing direct jobs
  • Submit all relevant documents for commercially viable applications
  • Application process: 
  • Phone: 011 305 8080

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

R1.2 Billion has been made available to address the effects of COVID-19 and to ensure sustainable food production. Here are the qualifying criteria: 

  • Small-scale or communal farmer, with an annual turnover of between R50 000 and R1 million
  • South African citizen
  • Operate for a year or more
  • In production season
  • Be registered on the Producer/Farmer Register and commodity or provincial databases
  • Priority will be given to businesses owned by women, youth and people with disabilities
  • South African certified ID copy not older than three months
  • Already farming
  • Valid confirmation of land tenure/ownership (title deeds, tribal resolution, permission to occupy, minimum five years lease agreement)
  • Application form completed
  • Farming operation able to create permanent and/or seasonal jobs
  • In cases where the environmental impact assessment (EIA) certificate is necessary for the operations, evidence of such to be provided
  • Proof of access to water for irrigation in case of fruits, vegetables and winter crops (i.e. water license/rights or proof that it had been applied for, borehole or other sources)
  • Application process: 


This is meant for businesses in need of a loan. The qualifying criteria are as follows: