Solidarity Fund at R500m; no soft loans for SMEs

The Solidarity Fund that was put into place to provide funding during the coronavirus outbreak provided information today on how they are going to spend the money donated. Chairperson Gloria Serobe and her team have indicated that the first money that has been paid out has been used to acquire Personal Protective Equipment and 5 million masks have been ordered from China. The money provided by the Rupert and Oppenheimer families is not going to be channelled through the Solidarity Fund. Also on this podcast are Martin Kingston, Adrian Enthoven and Nicola Galombik. – Linda van Tilburg

Solidarity Fund media release

The Solidarity Fund, announced a week ago by President Cyril Ramaphosa, today provided more details on its purpose and mandate of mobilising and coordinating efforts and resources from all South Africans and the international community to assist most vulnerable South Africans to deal with the impact of Covid-19 and the consequences of measures intended to slow its rate of infection.

The Fund is designed to be an umbrella platform for all South Africa to contribute to the fight against Covid-19. It will be a rapid response vehicle through which pooled contributions can be deployed to immediately fund impactful initiatives in three key focus areas:

    1. Health Response: direct support for the healthcare system, augmenting both the private and government healthcare sectors to ensure they have what they need, as well as enabling emergency supplies.
    2. Solidarity Campaign: Mobilising citizens while inspiring behavioural change to flatten the curve and manage the pandemic. Thereby uniting the nation in action through empowering and motivating the people of South Africa to play an active role in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic through their own behaviour and acts of service and solidarity in their communities.
    3. Humanitarian Effort: Enabling resilience through augmenting the efforts of government and business to provide various forms of humanitarian aid and support to the most vulnerable households and communities to enhance their ability to cope – through sustaining access to food, care and through providing SMMEs support to sustain their employees through the economic shut-down.

As an example of disbursement in practice, the Fund has identified [two] immediate priority initiatives to which funds will be deployed this week. These are:

  1. Preparing the health system to respond. R100m has been made available through the SF for the procurement of additional PPE (masks, gloves and protective gowns) for health workers.
  2. Focus on flattening the curve through supporting a co-ordinated communication and community-based campaign to reach, mobilise and support citizens across the country to “stay at home” during the lock-down and mitigate the spread of the virus.

Beyond these material interventions, the Fund hopes to unite the nation in action and drive solidarity in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and will run a campaign that demonstrates and celebrates how South Africans are responding to the challenge of fighting the threat of Covid-19.

The Fund has already seen an influx of donations from across South Africa and abroad. Commenting on the generosity of South African’s at large, the Fund Chairperson, Gloria Serobe said:

“As the pandemic continues to evolve at a rapid rate, we are moving with urgency; we have seen the Fund progress from concept to operational in little over two weeks. As a result, the full details of how the Fund will be run and the initiatives it will focus on are still being finalised. Our key objective remains however, to ensure the most efficient and impactful allocation of capital is made available to cushion the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic for the most vulnerable members of society. At this early stage of the Fund, we are delighted to share with you details of the first two initiatives we will be disbursing funds to this week.”

While operating as an independent entity, the Fund will work closely with government and Business for South Africa’s response teams, as well as engaging with civil society formations to ensure inclusivity. In addition to Gloria Serobe and the Vice Chairperson, Adrian Enthoven, Michael Katz has been appointed to the Board of the Solidarity Fund. Other Board members including representatives from civil society will be announced shortly. To guarantee radical transparency and the highest standards of governance, the law firms, Ernst & Young and Edward Nathan Sonnenberg have developed a governance framework that will guide the allocation of all Funds to ensure effective and efficient use to combat Covid-19.

“As demonstrated by our President, this is a time for collaboration and consolidation. We hope that all South African’s will unite with us in this fight against the Covid-19 virus. The Solidarity Fund is a vehicle through which we can all contribute to a single effort that will enable our country to quickly and comprehensively deal with the challenges we are currently facing,” concluded Serobe.

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