Leaping to the rescue (LEA should be in a different font)

Kabelo Adamson
SMALL BUSINESSES AFFECTED: SMME's are suffering from lack of business during lockdown

Authority step in to aid SMME’s

Having conducted a survey to assess the impact of Covid-19 on Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMMEs), Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) has stepped up its efforts to help those affected.

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The snap survey, carried out at the end of March, covered 382 LEA-registered SMMEs from around the country.

In total the surveyed businesses boasted 2, 669 employees with an overall monthly wage bill of P5.9 million

It was found that 63 percent of those surveyed had suspended operations, having been faced with an average 47 percent reduction in monthly revenue.

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The tourism sector, which accounts for 27 percent of the jobs in the survey, is reported to have bore the brunt of the impact, with a 72 percent revenue loss in March putting 729 jobs at risk.

Companies that remained operational during the period faced their own challenges. These included: difficulty in importing raw material, greatly reduced revenue due to Covid-19 restrictions and inability to pay fixed costs such as rentals, loans and salaries.

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It was further found that of the 382 assessed enterprises, 209 have outstanding loans with a total balance in excess of P130 million.

As part of their efforts to help, LEA assisted 300 SMMEs apply for the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) wage subsidy. This is believed to be a key factor in helping avert job losses, especially in the tourism sector which accounts for 61 percent of the loan balance.

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Furthermore, 19 businesses were aided in applying for working capital and loan repayment breaks at CEDA and commercial banks.

LEA has also assisted enterprises to accelerate the testing and certification of essential products at Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) to ensure their products meet the required standards.

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It is reported that companies were thereafter supported to secure orders in the amount of P2.3 million for Covid-19 related goods such as sanitizers, masks and cleaning chemicals.

Although the outbreak of the pandemic has caused massive damage to the domestic economy, it has provided an opportunity for businesses to become more innovative. To that end, LEA has identified 13 enterprises to be assisted with scaling up to compete sustainably in the production of medical consumables and personal hygiene products.

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