Lockdown lifeline: free expert advice for SMMEs

13 May 2020 | Web Article Number: ME202019028

Disaster Management
Education & Training
SMME Development & Support
Social Development

PRIVATE higher education institution MANCOSA is harnessing the support of subject matter specialists to provide free expert advice on a range of important aspects of business management and how they relate to the COVID-19 crisis.

Professor Magnate Ntombela, Academic and Social Purposes Initiative Director at MANCOSA, said the initiative has the backing of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“Small businesses which are in ICU are being bombarded with information and advice from all sides. There is information overload. Some organisations are capitalising on the crisis and want to charge a fee for advice,” Ntombela said.

“MANCOSA business school has decided to address the call from SMMEs for bite-sized content that can be easily understood and will help answer the many questions small business owners have relating to tax matters, occupational health, human resources, how to apply for relief funding, coping with debts, property rental issues and managing the cash flow.”

Small businesses include hawkers, street traders and all businesses in the informal trading sector. These, sais Ntombela, are run by the most vulnerable groups in society, most of whom cannot access bank loans or state funding. And even with the Solidarity Response Fund receiving private sector donations to assist SMMEs, many will find it impossible to access financial assistance.

“The team of experts in various fields will share information on an easily accessible platform to assist small businesses to negotiate the minefield of red tape and bureaucracy as they battle for survival under these harsh economic times. The information will also be useful after the lockdown as the nation creeps back towards normality,” said Ntombela.

Durban Chamber CEO Palesa Phili said the biggest challenge facing leaders in the wake of the pandemic is working out how to safeguard business continuity in an environment where the landscape is changing daily.

“Businesses require support to interpret newly-formulated legislation and navigating myriad disruptions and threats to their sustainability, from cash flow pressures; compromised employee health; business operations upheavals; and limited mobility; to drastically reduced export markets and many more problems.

“We are proud to be partnering with MANCOSA business school to fill a key business need at this time for credible quality information that will help guide critical decision-making for the captains of industry in KZN as well as SMMEs,” Phili said.

The following subject experts will share advice for SMMEs:

  • COVID-19 Survival Tips for SMMEs - Bruce Macgregor is a practicing lawyer for 25 years with a strong commercial and employment law practice, Macgregor Erasmus. He will be providing advice to help businesses survive post-COVID-19, including how to manage employees, accessing government relief, UIF benefits and other legal considerations.
  • Psychology of lockdown: Adapting to a ‘new normal’ - Elizabeth Lumley is a Durban-based qualified Industrial and Organisational Psychologist. She has worked closely with several individuals and SMME’s across various industries for the past 20 years.
  • Taxing times: Covid-19 special tax relief - Aneria Bouwer is a Partner in Bowmans’ Cape Town office Tax Practice. She advises on all aspects of domestic and international tax, and also on exchange controls. During the lockdown, she has been advising various clients on the special tax measures introduced to help individuals and businesses.
  • Cash is King and Keeping your site COVID safe - Riaz Dhai is a Chartered Accountant and the MD of Sachet Manufacturers, a leading home and personal care manufacturing business. He is also the co-founder and director of ZKC & Associates, a boutique IFRS advisory firm. He will discuss cash flow management and will also provide health and safety tips for businesses and their employees.
  • Relief Funding Toolbox for SMMES - Melitta Ngalonkulu is a financial journalist at business, financial and investment news website, Moneyweb, where she reports on companies, markets, the economy, small businesses and current affairs. She also hosts Small Business Conversation - a weekly podcast on Moneyweb which invites leaders and experts in the SMME sector to provide thought leadership and information.

Short audio clips of the advice offered by the experts will be made available on the websites of MANCOSA (www.mancosa.co.za) and Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry (www.durbanchamber.co.za) as well as their other social media platforms. They will also be available to be shared with individuals, other interested corporates and organisations. The experts will also be hosting live Q&A sessions on social media in the coming weeks.

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