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IMPORTANT NOTICE: Update on COVID-19 and the craft and design sector

Wednesday, 01 April 2020  
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Important update: Message from Erica Elk


01 April 2020

Today is April Fool’s Day, but with a third of the world’s population in lockdown and the WHO recording over 750 000 infections and over 36 000 deaths and fake news streaming from all quarters, this isn’t the time for traditional April Fools pranks … although it is amazing and invigorating to see how creative and adaptive we human beings are in a crisis...

So it’s day six of our national lockdown and I’m looking out of my window at a man cycling on the roof of an apartment block; and my neighbour doing her fifth lap up and down her driveway. It’s the first time I’ve seen the guy on the bike; but my neighbour has been very disciplined in her daily routine since day one.

A daily home routine is what is going to keep us sane; and hopefully healthy and COVID-19 free. But writing this I am so acutely conscious of how vastly different all our lockdown circumstances are; and how utterly stressful this is for everyone – but most particularly the thousands of informal, micro and small business owners who depend on daily sales to keep food on the table for themselves and those dependent on them. 

Two years ago, exactly around about this time, we at the CDI were going through our own stressful cashflow crisis, thanks to a contractual dispute with a funder; and every morning I would wake with a very tight knot in my gut wondering how I was going to make it through the day; so I have a sense of what this panic feels like. Thankfully we got through that; and we are not under the same immediate threat – we are carrying on strong and working through this nightmare time with you and for you. 

So top of my mind – and everyone’s at CDI – is how can we help alleviate some of this stress. Unfortunately, a lot of it is beyond our control, but we are pivoting to support the sector through some of our innovative online platforms, and through our work with government where we can bring ideas to the table to help small businesses.

Two of our immediate initiatives to note are:

  • This week we are embarking on a major marketing campaign to raise awareness of local craft and design products. We have secured support from our funders for a significant roll-out of activities online, one of which will see technical upgrades and a ramp up in activities to profile local products through We will initially focus locally on consumers and the trade in South Africa; and will follow with the thousands of global buyers in our database. Our aim is to ensure local businesses continue to find leads that will generate sales with physical market opportunities constrained.
  • Next week we will launch our Online Learning Platform – that we have been testing this year. Through the platform we will continue to deliver the business training we have been offering for over 19 years to help CDI business members strengthen their businesses and their resilience. The Platform has 14 business modules which are free to access for CDI members; and we’ll supplement these with webinars and resources on specific targeted topics that will help small businesses during this crisis.

We’ve been carefully tracking all the support that is being made available for small businesses by government and the private sector. There is already a fair amount on offer. Right now we know that cash is king – a recent JP Morgan report indicates that SMEs only have 27 days of cash buffer and 25% only have 13 days – so an immediate priority for small businesses will be to explore all of the emergency schemes that are going to make a difference right now and over the next 2-3 months. In these circumstances every little bit counts, so make sure you are aware of what support is available! 

Please go to our
website which has a page we are keeping updated on a daily basis. 

But in the meantime take note of the
Department of Small Business’s Debt relief finance scheme and business growth/resilience facility; and that you need to first register on the National SMME database. The Department of Sports, Arts + Culture has also aside R150 million relief fund for artists and athletes and organisations in the creative sector – and their deadline is 4 April. The Department of Tourism has set aside R200m for SMMEs in the tourism and hospitality sector and the IDC and NEF have set aside funds to support manufacturers of critical goods; Proudly SA is channelling businesses who might be facing supply chain challenges to the DTI for assistance.

For employers, the UIF can cover loss of income to your employees who have had to go on short-time or who you can’t pay over this this period and special leave for people who can’t work remotely during quarantine periods. Tax relief includes the deferment of 20% of your PAYE liabilities over the next four months; and if you are due to make any provisional income tax payments these can be deferred without penalties or interest over the next six months.

In addition, there is an Employee Tax Incentive (ETI) of R500/month for the next four months. This will reduce the PAYE liability of staff who earn below R6 500/month; if there is no PAYE due then the employer is entitled to a reimbursement of the total ETI amount at the end of each PAYE reconciliation period.

There is also the Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) to help companies facing temporary constraints, that may result in retrenchments, to continue to pay employees. This allowance is in the form of wage payments directly to employees.

Still under investigation is a proposed reduction in employer and employee contributions to the UIF and SDF.

In addition,
two R1 billion loan funds are being set up through contributions made by SA business leaders.

We are updating this every day so keep an eye on our website. There are lots of other online resources too, for example Wesgro and the City of Cape Town… keep your eyes and ears open. And if you hear of anything please let us know…

Our team remains online to support you during this time; we are all having conversations every day – on email, WhatsApp and the good old telephone … and if you are a CDI member requiring a business consultation to deal with a specific issue, we are scheduling these as online discussions. Email Rosemary Cooke on to arrange a slot for this.

Please remember – You are not alone!  And remember all your colleagues and co-collaborators are also all in the same boat (locked down at home!). So support each other too. Your network (you can join our
Facebook community too) and the power of creatives collectively can be a reinvigorating source of new ideas, problem-solving, advice and emotional support.

We have plenty of news and opportunities to share this month, so please read on below for more.

All the best,

Erica Elk


Group CEO, CDI

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