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Nedbank’s Together, Beke le Beke’ initiative set to uplift entrepreneurs, side hustlers and informal traders after recent challenges

Article provided by Nedbank

Nedbank is using its financial expertise to bring  together some of its most impactful programmes, and those of  its partners,  aimed at supporting, growing  and inspiring  micro entrepreneurs and small businesses active in the informal sector under the Together, Beke le Beke initiative.

The bank’s ‘Together, Beke le Beke’ initiative will see micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses, many of whom were hardest hit by the pandemic and the unrest that impacted parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, receive support in the form of funding, mentorship, and guidance on essential business skills.

According to Buli Ndlovu, Executive Head of Marketing, Nedbank Retail and Business Banking, the initiative forms part of Nedbank’s ongoing efforts to help address the issues of unemployment and income loss.  At 32.6%, South Africa’s unemployment rate is now at its highest ever level and, according to data from the September 2020 National Income Dynamics Study, two thirds of the three million jobs lost in South Africa in the first two quarters of 2020 were held by women.  “Most South Africans that have lost their jobs and suffered the harsh impact of the economic crisis have been women, particularly those in the grassroots informal sector,” Ndlovu says, “and given that the informal sector accounts for 11,25% of total employment in the country, and plays an important role in providing employment to those who cannot find work, the Together initiative will focus on supporting at least 50% female micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses.”

Ndlovu explains that Nedbank’s commitment to using its scale and financial expertise to deliver on its purpose to do good has been a constant driver of the bank’s targeted relief programmes throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, including its support efforts in the informal sector such as the spaza shop and informal traders grant. This same commitment is behind Together, Beke le Beke.

“Although it is the most vulnerable to changes in the economy, the informal sector has historically been the least adequately served by the financial sector in the past,” says Ndlovu. “While certain specialised programmes have been developed by the industry, these have been largely unstructured. Micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses need much more integrated, multifaceted solutions to recover from the devastating impact of Covid-19 and the recent unrest.”

So, while Nedbank has been at the forefront of the development of banking products, relief programmes and innovations to alleviate the strain on consumers and small businesses, the bank recognised the acute need to focus more intently on addressing the challenges facing micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses and the millions of vulnerable people who earn a living in the informal economy.

As part of the Together, Beke le Beke initiative, Nedbank is partnering with programmes to:

1. Fund a rebuild:

  • The Informal Traders Support Programme – a partnership with the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA), who are making once-off grants to the total value of R40million, available to informal traders whose businesses were looted or vandalized in the July unrest, to restart their businesses, refurbish infrastructure and restock supplies.
  • Proud of My Town – a Nedbank-funded holistic community transformation initiative in partnership with urban planning social enterprise, Ranyaka Community Transformation, is currently implementing a relief and recovery intervention to assist businesses to get back on their feet. Assistance ranges from the restocking of shops and structural repairs to the onboarding of a selection of small business owners onto the Proud of My Town Building Business programme, which will offer longer term capacity-building, mentorship and support. The interventions will also include repair and beautification projects in selected business areas hard hit by the unrest.

2. Fund a business idea:

  • The Side Hustle – a daily grant and skills development programme to help aspiring entrepreneurs bring their ideas to fruition, in partnership with The Slow Fund, founded and run by Nic Haralambous.

The initiative is already underway and the process of identifying micro-entrepreneurs, side hustlers and informal traders to receive personalised grants, mentorship and skills training has begun. The journeys of these micro-entrepreneurs will be shared via an engaging content micro-series across various channels, with the public invited to add their voices to the stories through participation across digital, broadcast and social media platforms.

“We believe in the importance of micro-entrepreneurship and small business, and recognise this sector as the heartbeat of our economy,” concludes Ndlovu. “We don’t just want to give these businesses short-term finance, but shine a light on the brilliant, hardworking and innovative entrepreneurs in this diverse and incredibly valuable informal sector, immortalising their stories as part of the greater South African tale of resilience, togetherness and contribution.”   

Informal Traders Grant:
Register as your Informal Traders Association through email 
sefainformaltraders@nedbank.co.za
If you’re an informal trader, register with your informal traders association.

Side Hustle:
If you have a small business or idea, apply for funding, mentorship, and skills through slowhustle.org

Nedbank are a proud Partner of the NSBC