SA entrepreneurial ecosystem launches platform to help save small businesses

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A group of South African entrepreneurs, funders and small business experts have banded together to launch Save Your Local, a non-profit online aggregator that connects small businesses with their communities and customers by giving them access to a variety of voucher and donation platforms.

In response to financial difficulties being experienced by businesses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdown, Save Your Local aims to support small businesses by sustaining cash flow and averting business closures.

This is achieved by providing online income-generating opportunities for businesses currently unable to operate normally or service customers. Small businesses are able to sell vouchers to housebound customers, which can be redeemed once the establishment is fully functional post-lockdown. Alternatively, customers can make a donation to a business of their choice to support staff and cover costs.

Save Your Local is an initiative by Silvertree Holdings and Team Africa Ventures, and fine-tuned free-of-charge by industry experts including Bowman Gilfillan, Husemeyer Advisors, Fraser Consulting, the Beerhouse Group and The Loudhailer, amongst others. So far it has registered more than 250 small businesses across the country.

“We took inspiration from the American Dining Bonds Initiative launched by SupportRestaurants.org, which helps a variety of business owners operating in the entertainment, events, food, hospitality, and transportation sectors, along with many others,” said Yolandi Le Grange, chief operations officer (COO) at insurtech startup Click2Sure and Save Your Local board member. 

“There is no question that the temporary lockdown is necessary to save lives. However, an unavoidable and frightful consequence is that it is costing our SMMEs and losing our economy an estimated ZAR13 billion a day by constraining almost all business activity. With our entrepreneurs fighting for survival, we, as a community, felt that we needed to come together to try save not just businesses, but thousands of jobs and livelihoods too.”

Alexandra Fraser, from Fraser Consulting and a Save Your Local board member, said SMMEs are the backbone of South Africa’s economy, employing hundreds of thousands of South Africans. 

“Their survival is therefore critical. Three weeks of no operations, no sales and ongoing costs can easily kill a small business, and now, with the extended lockdown, this is the unfortunate reality that many entrepreneurs face. Even successful small businesses struggle to manage cash flow and operate on thin margins,” she said. 

“Save Your Local has been set up to provide immediate support and cash flow to well-loved local businesses – a need which cannot be met by the funds established to support the sector alone.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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