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With almost the whole country being put into hibernation by the government to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, life for small business owners has been upended.

And if the loss of earnings for them has not been bad enough, the difficulty in finding the latest information about government’s emergency rescue package, as well as relevant advice on urgent business interventions, is creating a major headache.

Private higher education institution MANCOSA which has a long legacy as a business school of repute, is harnessing the support of subject matter specialists to provide free expert advice on a range of important aspects of business management.

The initiative has the strong backing of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry as it aligns with the chamber’s intention to provide quality business support to its members and the broader business community at this challenging time.

Professor Magnate Ntombela, Academic and Social Purposes Initiative Director at MANCOSA, said: “Small businesses which are in ICU are being bombarded with information and advice from all sides. There is information overload. Some organisations are capitalising on the crisis and want to charge a fee for advice.

“MANCOSA business school has decided to address the call from SMMEs for bite-sized content that can be easily understood and will help answer the many questions small business owners have relating to tax matters, occupational health, human resources, how to apply for relief funding, coping with debts, property rental issues and managing the cash flow.”

Small businesses include hawkers, street traders and all businesses in the informal trading sector. These are run by the most vulnerable groups in society, most of whom cannot access bank loans or state funding. And even with the Solidarity Response Fund receiving private sector donations to assist SMMEs, many will find it impossible to access financial assistance.

“The team of experts in various fields will share information on an easily accessible platform to assist small businesses to negotiate the minefield of red tape and bureaucracy as they battle for survival under these harsh economic times. The information will also be useful after the lockdown as the nation creeps back towards normality,” said Ntombela.

Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Ms Palesa Phili said the biggest challenge facing leaders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, is working out how to safeguard business continuity in an environment where the landscape is changing rapidly daily.

“Businesses require support to interpret newly-formulated legislation and navigating a myriad of disruptions and threats to their sustainability, from cash flow pressures; compromised employee health; business operations upheavals; and limited mobility; to drastically reduced export markets and many more problems.”

“We are proud to be partnering with MANCOSA business school to fill a key business need at this time for credible quality information that will help guide critical decision-making for the captains of industry in KZN as well as SMMEs.”

The following are the subject experts who will share advice for SMMEs:

COVID-19 Survival Tips for SMME’s – Bruce Macgregor is a practicing lawyer for 25 years with a strong commercial and employment law practice, Macgregor Erasmus, which was founded in 2008. As a South African lawyer and UK Solicitor, he currently deals with SA investment into the UK, and hopefully in time UK investment into SA. Bruce will be providing advice to help businesses survive post-COVID-19, including how to manage employees, accessing government relief, UIF benefits and other legal considerations.

Psychology of lockdown: Adapting to a ‘new normal’ – Elizabeth Lumley is a Durbanbased qualified Industrial and Organisational Psychologist. She has worked closely with several individuals and SMME’s across various industries for the past 20 years. Connecting businesses with its talent is driven through her ability to work closely with leaders and individuals. Her passion is to embrace every opportunity to help individuals develop themselves on a personal and professional level.

Taxing times: COVID-19 special tax relief – Aneria Bouwer is a partner in Bowmans’ Cape Town office Tax Practice. She advises on all aspects of domestic and international tax, and also on exchange controls. Her specialist areas of expertise include tax dispute resolution, private equity and venture capital, employees’ tax and share schemes, as well as oil and gas tax work. During the lockdown, she has been advising various clients on the special tax measures introduced to help individuals and businesses during these vary trying times.

Cash is King & Keeping your site COVID-safe – Riaz Dhai is a Chartered Accountant and the managing director of Sachet Manufacturers, a leading home and personal care manufacturing business with brands in the home, hygiene and personal care space. He is also the co-founder and director of ZKC & Associates, a boutique IFRS advisory firm providing tailor made International Financial Reporting Standards solutions to its clients. Riaz will discuss cash flow management and will also provide health and safety tips for businesses and their employees.

Relief Funding Toolbox for SMMES – Melitta Ngalonkulu is a tenacious financial journalist at leading business, financial and investment news website, Moneyweb, where she reports on companies, markets, the economy, small businesses and current affairs. She also hosts Small Business Conversation – a weekly podcast on Moneyweb which invites leaders and experts in the SMME sector to provide thought leadership and information on how businesses can become lucrative and create jobs in a developing economy.

Short audio clips of the advice offered by the experts will be made available on the websites of MANCOSA (www.mancosa.co.za) and Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry (www.durbanchamber.co.za) as well as their other social media platforms. They will also be available to be shared with individuals, other interested corporates and organisations. The experts will also be hosting live Q&A sessions on social media in the coming weeks.

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Note to Editors

ABOUT MANCOSA

MANCOSA, a leading provider of management programmes through supported distance learning in Southern Africa, is ranked among the 10 of the best MBAs in Africa. A member of Honoris United Universities – the first pan-African private higher education network focused on nurturing the next generation of African leaders and professionals – Durban-based MANCOSA which has 12 learning centres offering 46 programmes serves as an innovation hub for executive education and postgraduate management programmes. A selection of Executive Education Short Learning Programmes is also offered to meet the requirements of professionals in both the private and public sectors.

About the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Founded in 1856, the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry is one of the largest member-based metropolitan chambers in Southern Africa and advocates on behalf of and represents the eThekwini business community. As a business-based and member-focused organisation, the Durban Chamber’s strategic purpose is to help create a conducive economic and business environment to facilitate and promote economic growth in the region in partnership with key stakeholders. The Durban Chamber does this by advocating and influencing policy decisions that affect the interests of business (legislation, tax and business regulations and more); offering member benefits, business support services and advice (CIPC, Certificate of Origin, ITC checks, HR, networking opportunities and more); and by providing business information relevant to the decision-making process.

Vision: In Business for a Better World