Of the 53% of South African small businesses that applied for relief funding, only 6% have received it.

Reasons cited ranged from poor or no response, unnecessary qualifying criteria and lengthy, tedious processes, said Mike Anderson, founder and CEO of the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC).

Findings from the NSBC COVID-19 National Small Business Survey (post level 5 lockdown) highlight the continued pain experienced by small businesses coming out of level 5 of the lockdown, with the challenges expected to worsen until lockdown reaches levels 2 and 1, when most small businesses will get back to some form of normality.

“One of the disturbing challenges facing small businesses is their inability to access relief-funding,” said Anderson.

According to the survey, 94% of small businesses said they were either currently in a cash-flow crisis, or would be within the next 30 days. Furthermore, 63% have already laid off workers or expect to do so within the next 30 days.

Anderson said only 8.5% of small businesses were back to normal at level 4 and more than 75% would only be back to normal at level 2 and level 1 – most at level 1.

“Government urgently needs to remove all the red tape and speed up the relief-funding processes and make this funding available to all small businesses through the nation,” he said.

The NSBC’s plea to government is to communicate more effectively, eliminate all confusion and give detailed clarity on how and when these businesses can get back to work.

“Importantly, fine tune and speed up the relief funding processes and make this funding available to all small businesses through the nation,” added Anderson.