By Chris Bishop
More than half of the billion Rand fund put up by the billionaire Oppenheimer family has been lent to thousands of small businesses in just 11 days in a bid to help them weather the COIVD -19 storm, that threatens to wreck the South African economy.
The Oppenheimer family – that made a fortune over the last century in mining – was one of the first of the big family names in South African business to come forward with a relief fund when South Africa declared a state of disaster in March. It is called the South African Future Trust and it saw tens of thousands of applications from cash-strapped businesses within days..
Interest free loans worth R638 million have been disbursed, through the banks, to 5,800 small businesses. It will ensure that 55,000 employees of these companies can expect money at the end of this month in which South African business has been all but shut by the lockdown.
The Oppenheimers are trying to call their contacts to increase the billion Rand fund. Jonathan and his father Nick Oppenheimer managed to raise R40 million more for the fund by ringing around over the Easter weekend. A statement, on April 23, said those pledges had now increased to R120 million that will enable the fund to support an extra 10,000 workers.
“We are immensely grateful to those who have already joined the Oppenheimer family in contributing to SAFT,” says the family in the statement.