Overwhelming number of applications for Oppenheimer Covid-19 fund

FNB says it has received an overwhelming number of applications for South African Future Trust (SAFT) funding support from business clients that have been impacted by Covid-19.

The SAFT fund was established by the Oppenheimer family to provide financial support to the employees of qualifying SMEs.

The Oppenheimer family put up R1 billion to help pay workers and keep small businesses afloat during the lockdown period.

To date, the fund has received R1.12 billion in donations, with total funds committed up to 63% – representing 11,200 small and medium sized businesses, supporting more than 103,000 people.

The scheme is currently available to clients of the country’s six largest banks whose businesses were financially sustainable prior to the Covid-19 crisis.

FNB said that approximately 2,300 businesses have been signed up for the funding scheme via the lender. These funds will enable 17,367 employees to receive income for the next three months, it said.

The bank said it received more than 12,000 qualifying SAFT applications from businesses who have been financially impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In addition to SAFT applications, FNB said it has received more than 40,000 completed assessments for both financial and non-financial support from its business clients. The assistance requested ranges from payment relief on existing loans, to merchant services device fee relief, as well as resources and guidance on navigating the Covid-19 crisis.

Jesse Weinberg, head of the SME Customer Segment at FNB, said: “The large volumes of applications and requests we continue to receive from businesses across the country are testament to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on small businesses and society as a whole.

“Due to the overwhelming number of applications we have received for SAFT funding, where applications are approved for qualifying businesses on a first come, first served basis, the portion of the SAFT fund made available through FNB is currently fully subscribed and we are unable to process any further requests at this point.

“As with all relief funds, they are limited and unfortunately, we have many clients that did not obtain funds from this scheme. We are proactively and reactively engaging with those clients to see how we can assist in another way or form.

“We are also working around the clock to process a backlog of payments to some employees of the businesses banked with us, and we appeal to our clients to kindly bear with us as we resolve these delays with utmost urgency,” said Weinberg.

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Overwhelming number of applications for Oppenheimer Covid-19 fund