According to Statistics South Africa, 30 percent of all businesses say they do not have enough revenue to last more than one month of lockdown. This is even more pressing amongst small businesses, of which 73 percent warn that they will not survive a lockdown that lasts longer than three months. With companies in the entertainment, food, and tourism sectors ordered to close, and customers required to stay home, many are facing closure with some 53% of these businesses already preparing to retrench staff members. To save small businesses and support government funding for Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), a group of South African entrepreneurs, funders and small business experts have banded together to launch Save Your Local, a non-profit online aggregator that connects small businesses with their communities and customers by giving them access to a variety of voucher and donation platforms.
Incepted just 17 days ago, Save Your Local aims to support small businesses by sustaining cash flow and averting business closures due to COVID-19. This is being achieved by providing online income-generating opportunities for businesses currently unable to operate normally or service customers. Through its website, small businesses can sell vouchers to housebound customers, which can be redeemed once the establishment is fully functional post-lockdown. Alternatively, customers can make a donation to a business of their choice to support staff and cover costs. In just a few days, Save Your Local has had more than 250 small businesses across the country register on its platform, making it the largest collective hospitality, tourism and services initiative in South Africa to date, and an opportunity for businesses and consumers alike to help shape a positive future for their local communities.
“We took inspiration from the American Dining Bonds Initiative launched by SupportRestaurants.org, which helps a variety of business owners operating in the entertainment, events, food, hospitality, and transportation sectors, along with many others,” says Yolandi Le Grange, COO at Click2Sure and Save Your Local Board Member. “There is no question that the temporary lockdown is necessary to save lives. However, an unavoidable and frightful consequence is that it is costing our SMMEs and losing our economy an estimated R13-billion a day by constraining almost all business activity. With our entrepreneurs fighting for survival, we, as a community, felt that we needed to come together to try to save not just businesses, but thousands of jobs and livelihoods too.”
Alexandra Fraser, from Fraser Consulting and a Save Your Local Board Member, expands: “SMMEs are the backbone of our economy and employ hundreds of thousands of South Africans. Their survival is therefore critical. Three weeks of no operations, no sales and ongoing costs can easily kill a small business, and now, with the extended lockdown, this is the unfortunate reality that many entrepreneurs face. Even successful small businesses struggle to manage cash flow and operate on thin margins. Save Your Local has been set up to provide immediate support and cash flow to well-loved local businesses – a need which cannot be met by the funds established to support the sector alone.”
For entrepreneurs such as Gary Isenberg, a restauranteur in Pringle Bay, Save Your Local is a much-welcomed development: “The extent and impact of COVID-19 has been sudden and unexpected, and like many other small business owners, it has come as a complete shock to the system. It has forced us to relook at our business model and pivot in ways that would have typically taken us a much longer time to achieve. However, through community-based initiatives like Save Your Local, we have been able to collaborate and exchange knowledge with fellow entrepreneurs sharing a similar experience. It has also given me a new way to engage with my customers, and for them to show their support in return. As a family-run business, we are very grateful, and I highly recommend that small businesses like me register on the platform.”
An initiative by Silvertree Holdings and Team Africa Ventures, and fine-tuned free-of-charge by industry experts including Bowman Gilfillan, Husemeyer Advisors, Fraser Consulting, the Beerhouse Group and The Loudhailer amongst many, Save Your Local is calling on small businesses in all cities across South Africa to register on its platform, and for customers and potential donors to support local businesses by purchasing vouchers, making donations and encouraging them to sign up.
To register your business, purchase a voucher, make a donation, or for more information, please visit http://www.saveyourlocal.co.za.
Alternatively, reach out to us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook by tagging @SaveYourLocalSA.