As part of a drive to provide palliatives for dying small businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, a leading bank in South Africa, Standard Bank, is partnering with the South African Future Trust (SAFT) to disburse loans to selected small business owners.

SAFT, an independent trust set up by Nicky and Jonathan Oppenheimer to extend direct financial support to SMEs who are at risk of losing out in business, has been funded with an initial contribution of R1 billion, with the aim of mitigating the immediate economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

According to a statement curled from the website of the bank, the eligibility process includes an online registration before fund is disbursed. “As a Standard Bank customer, SMEs will be able to register for assistance online email. Please note that these mechanisms will be communicated and made available shortly – please keep checking for updates for when this will go live.

“SMEs who meet the following criteria will be eligible for support: (a) Turnover below R25 million per annum; (b) Ability to demonstrate impact of COVID-19 on their operations now, or in the future; (c) Trading for at least 24 months; (d) Business is in good standing.

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“Once the application process is complete, and if your loan is approved, it will take up to seven days after signature of the loan agreement for the first week’s payments to be deposited into your employee/s’ account/s, dependent on the day that the signed loan agreement was received. “Employees do not apply directly for this fund; qualifying small businesses apply for the benefit of their employees. Employee recipients will also carry no financial liability, and any payments made by SAFT to the employees will be free and clear of income tax. The employer (approved small business) will enter into the loan agreement with SAFT.

“Standard Bank would prefer that employees are paid into a relevant bank account, also aimed at reducing the number of employees that may need access to an ATM to receive funds via mechanisms such as Instant Money.

“Should the employee not have such a bank account, Standard Bank will request permission to contact the employee and open a MyMo account into which funds can be received,” the statement read.