SMEs punch holes on COVID-19 Relief Fund

Andrew Maramwidze-BG reporter
Monday, 13 April 2020
SMEs punch holes on COVID-19 Relief Fund

Entrepreneurs have started punching holes on government’s COVID-19 pandemic relief package, which is expected to cushion workers, stabilise businesses and promote opportunities for economic diversification. 

“One would have expected that the relief fund would come as a mitigation factor for a reasonable period of time, to give oxygen to 'non operational' firms. It seems there won’t be such, at least from the current guidelines,” Nnyaladzi Malaki Monyamane, founder of a local travel agency, The Gabs Experience, told Botswana Guardian Online.

Monyamane said the fund has missed the most critical component for most start-ups and entrepreneurs, which is their rental. “Subsidising employees’ salaries is a commendable move, however it is not enough in the long run, as the offices they work from provides them the basis and justification of a 22 day monthly pay,” said Monyamane. 

He said most youth-owned companies struggle with rentals and usually employ one person on a permanent basis, being the business owner. “We can only hope that going forward, the relief fund will capture this important element of business’ running costs, to avoid our malls becoming white elephants after Covid-19,” Monyamane emphasised. 

He raised fears of businesses not being allowed to operate from home, saying that poses a looming risk for businesses to collapse.“Whereas operating from home has been permitted for some sectors, we still have clients who still find it difficult to go into a residential area to make a payment, and they are right, they have been robbed before,” said Monyamane. He said most entrepreneurs are considering closing offices due to the pandemic, owing to rental which is a fixed cost. 



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