We are living in tumultuous times. The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted the day-to-day lives of many South Africans, resulting in unprecedented job losses and business closures. In addition, the recent unrest that erupted across the country destroyed businesses and communities, and left micro entrepreneurs, side hustlers and informal traders with the bare remains of what once was the thriving heartbeat of the communities they serve and the families they support.

Despite the devastation and destruction, the South African spirit of ubuntu has prevailed. Individuals, businesses, NGOs and citizen-led initiatives are joining forces to clean up, rebuild and restore a better and more resilient South Africa. As the implementation agents of the national Nedbank Proud of my Town programme, the Ranyaka team has the privilege to be part of this journey.

Bringing restoration, one step at a time
Nedbank recently launched its Together, Beke le Beke initiative, bringing together some of its most impactful programmes, and those of partners, to uplift South Africans active in the informal sector who have been the hardest hit by the pandemic and most recently, the social unrest devastating parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

The Together, Beke le Beke initiative is supporting micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses through funding, mentorship, and guidance on essential business skills – and we are excited to announce that, under the umbrella of the Proud of my Town (PoMT) programme, Ranyaka is now also one of the implementation agents of the Together, Beke le Beke initiative.

Funded by PoMT, our team is busy implementing a relief and recovery intervention to assist businesses to get back on their feet. This support ranges from the restocking of shops and structural repairs to longer term capacity-building, mentorship and support. The interventions will also include repair and beautification projects in selected business areas hard hit by the unrest.

Operation clean-up
When the unrest hit KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in July, our teams in those provinces mobilised over 400 volunteers within a matter of days to tackle clean-up operations at and around malls. The Nedbank Proud of my Town programme sponsored cleaning equipment, refreshments and T-shirts.

The next step involved on-the-ground surveys and interviews, with Ranyaka team members in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng visiting 150 businesses to determine exactly what kind and level of support they need to move forward. Based on the outcome of detailed surveys to establish the needs of those affected, the relief and recovery participants are currently receiving small grants of between R500 and R50 000.

Some of these businesses will also be onboarded onto the Proud of my Town Building Business programme, which will offer longer term capacity-building, mentorship and support.

Team effort
In tackling the rebuild phase, the Together, Beke le Beke initiative also includes an Informal Traders Grant, which entails a R40 million partnership with the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) that makes special grants available to informal traders to restart their businesses, refurbish infrastructure and restock supplies. Then, in terms of funding business ideas, The Side Hustle, a daily grant and skills development programme, is helping aspiring entrepreneurs bring their ideas to fruition, in partnership with The Slow Fund, founded and run by Nic Haralambous.

Not just headlines
One often reads the announcements of initiatives, movements and corporate campaigns that commit to making a difference. One sees the social media posts, one hears the radio adverts and one read the announcements. And sometimes, one wonders whether what is being featured in the headlines is really making its way to the ground.

As Ranyaka, it is a privilege to be on the ground, witnessing these announcements translate into reality, seeing first-hand the direct impact of the Together, Beke le Beke initiative. We have met, in person, over 100 of these small businesses. We have listened to their stories. We have gathered the information. Our team members were on site when the camera crews interviewed the entrepreneurs in some of the towns where we work. We are, right now, doing the pay-outs – one at a time. We are seeing their stalls being rebuilt – and we are getting involved in the rebuilding.

We are humbled to be part of something that, we believe, it making deep and lasting impact – and grateful to funders like Nedbank who make this possible.

Follow the stories
The stories of some of the micro-entrepreneurs supported by the Together, Beke le Beke initiative is currently being shared across various broadcast and social media channel, and the public has been invited to add their voices to the stories through participation across digital, broadcast and social media platforms. We will be sharing these soon!