Words: Derek Carelse Images: Supplied
The vendor market has decreased radically because their customers are following the lockdown regulations and staying indoors. Our vendors are slowly but surely returning to their pitches as Level 4 of the lockdown will see more customers using the roads.
We have applied to the half-a-handful of funds applicable to us. There has been talk in the media about lockdown relief funds created to support big and small businesses during this period. I see hardly any funds to help non-profit organisations (NPOs), non-profit companies (NPCs) and public benefit organisations (PBOs).
In fact, a public petition has been activated, protesting to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to instruct
the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) to keep its doors open to support the thousands of NGOs that will be impacted. Yes, the NLC closed its doors for business earlier in the lockdown period. This has now changed. However, the lockdown grants only target NGOs that offer COVID- 19-related relief services, and then only some.
As at 11 May, the Unemployment Insurance Temporary Employer/ Employee Relief Scheme (UIF TERS) Fund has not opened the fund for applications for May.
The Big Issue, as a social enterprise operating as an NGO, finds itself between a rock and a hard place. We do not seem to fit into the neat categories of the lockdown funds’ criteria. Small business grants offered by government and philanthropic foundations are loans of varying type and order.
While waiting, we have initiated our own Vendor Lockdown Relief Fund as our way of providing an emergency stipend on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. We have raised R60 000 thus far, which has enabled us to distribute R100 to each vendor for six weeks. This is thanks to Novus Print, NGO Uthando, Bright Future Trust (UK) and Fondation Ipsen (France). They have been amazing in their financial support of this initiative and our organisation as a whole.