The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a lockdown that had a devastating impact on the livelihood of small businesses. According to the National Income Dynamics Study (Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey), a consumer study, South Africa has lost a decade’s worth of jobs in less than half a year of lockdown and the economy slowed by 16.4% in the second quarter of 2020 compared with the first quarter of 2020.

In light of the above, Finfind and its partners (the Department of Small Business Development, Seda, Services SETA, Business Leadership SA, the Banking Association South Africa, the JSE, SAICA Enterprise Development, SAVCA, SAIPA, IBASA and E Squared Investments) conducted a study, to gauge the impact of lockdown on the vital SMME sector.

The SMME study included the following areas:

  • Profile of the owners of these businesses
  • Sector, location and other key business information
  • Financials before and after the lockdown
  • Online functioning before and after the lockdown
  • COVID-19 relief funding applications and rejection rates
  • Key challenges and future changes.

The comprehensive survey mapped each SMME’s situation prior to lockdown and then focused on the impact of lockdown over a 5-month period, commencing at the start of lockdown level 5. A sample of 15,000 SMMEs across all sectors in all provinces were engaged with a response rate of almost 10%. 1489 businesses completed the survey providing more than 250,000 points of data.