Recovery and Relief Programme for Community Entrepreneurs

The Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted the South African economy. Thousands of micro, survivalist and small enterprises are amongst those who currently find themselves in a dire position.

In response to this crisis, Nedbank and Ranyaka, through Proud of my Town, has launched a tailor-made enterprise support initiative to support businesses in the PoMT nodes who have been hard hit by Covid-19 and the unintended consequences of a national lockdown.

Palesa Machaka exudes energy, passion and positivity. This third-year student in BSc Construction Studies is also an entrepreneur from Mamelodi-East where she sells fruits and veggies in bulk and then packages the produce for resale. Palesa has big dreams for establishing community vegetable gardens in her community.

Two-phased approach

The response plan is centered around a two-phased approach: Relief and recovery. The relief interventions focus on providing support to assist entrepreneurs to meet their immediate needs in order to survive. The Recovery phase aims to support businesses as they reopen their doors with the easing of lockdown regulations.

Extensive engagement is currently taking place with 66 businesses – 26 in the Western Cape, 20 in Gauteng and another 20 in North-West province. Entrepreneurs’ needs are assessed through telephonic interviews, a customized online survey, data analysis and in-person consultation with business mentors.

Senior Nedbank staff members are closely involved in the ongoing development of this initiative which includes research on existing public and private support programmes for micro entrepreneurs and the integration of these research findings into the Covid-19 relief initiative. 

As at the end of June 2020, the initiative had included interventions ranging from mentorship and Covid-19 workplace protocol information sessions to marketing support.

Thabo Dube runs his business, LETZ from his studio in Plankenbrug, Stellenbosch. Here, he and his team produce world-class, stunning handmade leather products in-house. His story was born out of struggle. “After the accident, I didn’t just lose my leg. I lost hope. I had to solve depression by finding something which I loved, which was my brand, Letz.” Watch his inspirational story here.


The first mentorship session for the twenty Mamelodi Building Business candidates Mentoring takes place via WhatsApp groups, Zoom and other digital platforms, with one face-to-face visit taking place once a month. Entrepreneurs selected into the mentorship programme are automatically entered into a competition where they stand a chance to win anything between R8,000 and R2,000 worth of business prizes.

During the 8-week programme, the entrepreneurs benefit from:

  • Free business coaching

    Covid-readiness training

    Preparation of their business premises for reopening

    Business Starter pack (branding, website development and social media presence)

    Nedbank Business Literacy training and access to a local Nedbank Business Advisor

    Registration on the PoMT Building Business database for future opportunities

    Opportunity to network (online) with entrepreneurs in two other provinces

    Registration on other longer-term networking, coaching and funding platforms.


In Stellenbosch, 16 entrepreneurs are being mentored on an ongoing basis via the Stellenbosch Network and the Stellenbosch University Small Business Academy, whilst another 10 entrepreneurs are in the process of being connected with mentors in Paarl.

Some 50 entrepreneurs from Magaliesburg and surrounds attended a product showcase in February this year. A big thank you to the Magalies Business & Tourism Forum for their input and participation. Many of these entrepreneurs are now participating in the Building Business programme. Read the full story here.

Dreams with wings! B&B Chickens is a Magalies-based small-scale poultry farm that raises and sells chicken for meat at an affordable price to local customers and other bulk buyers. Their long-term goal is to expand beyond poultry and also venture into agricultural projects that will not only employ local community members, but also teach others how to farm. The three business partners are Daniel Ramokoka and Bonolo Modutwane (photographed here) as well as Ido Mbecheng.

Financial and food parcel support

Twenty small businesses are receiving weekly stipends for a period of three months (May to July) to the amount of R58,500, twenty businesses in Kanyamazane have received once-off R500 food vouchers and 40 entrepreneurs from Magaliesburg have received food parcels to the value of R1,000 each (sponsored by Telesure Insurance).

Preparing to reopen

Twenty entrepreneurs from Mamelodi and another 40 from Magaliesburg attended information sessions on the necessary Covid-19 protocols required for them to reopen their businesses safely.

Looking at the bigger picture, in Stellenbosch, the drive to transform the old Victoria Street clinic into an Economic Development Hub that will open doors for local community entrepreneurs is ongoing. Now, more than ever, small businesses need affordable and nurturing spaces that will not only provide them with access to new markets, but will provide a platform for re-connection, networking and guidance.

Creative flair meets marketing savvy at Zenobia Thys Couture. Zenobia Thomas runs her own a fashion design studio in Stellenbosch where she creates beautiful evening wear, cocktail dresses, wedding attire and more recently, also buffs and masks. Find Zenobia on Facebook.

Life and business skills, coaching and mentoring are the key focus areas of RIISK Skill in Mamelodi-East, where Sam Phala and team launched their new centre earlier this year. Sam is now participating in the Mamelodi Building Business programme.

Going global

Ranyaka’s Boston (US-based) intern is working on a programme to connect township businesses to the global market.  A webinar is currently being planned for mid-July where Melissa will guide participants in learning more about import and export, how to handle an account with international clients and funders; and accessing a global market. Entrepreneurs will be pre-assessed prior to participation to ensure that their businesses are a good fit for this initiative.

Place-based and personal

Whilst a host of national corporate and Government-driven initiatives all have a role to play in providing relief to the many thousands of township-based enterprises dealing with the backlash of a global pandemic, the Proud of my Town initiative has witnessed the power of interventions that are both place-based and personal. Business owners are not only in need of crisis relief in the form of once-off financial injections. A holistic, multi-faceted and tailor-made approach is required to truly turn the tide and accompany these businesses on a journey that will see them not only survive, but thrive – and ultimately, become catalysts for change in their own communities.

Elani Plaatjies from Cloetesville, Stellenbosch is pursuing her dream of taking her catering business, The Food Triangle, to new heights. Elani believes that her customers are her compass. “I believe that I have to keep innovating. Making new and inspiring dishes gives me so much energy!” Find Elani on Facebook.