The AVBOB Disaster Relief Fund was established by South African ICMIF member AVBOB to aid various small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which suffered substantial loss and damage due to the recent unrest and looting experienced in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. To date, eleven of the fund’s first beneficiaries have received cumulative support to the value of ZAR 2.5 million.
Despite the significant strain on small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, AVBOB says these enterprises remain critical in the provision of job opportunities and contribution to South Africa’s economy. Whilst in the midst of fighting to keep their businesses afloat, the unrest and large-scale destruction of property and businesses in the two provinces decimated many affected small businesses which were uninsured.
The chaos affected many communities who came together in spite of fear and uncertainty about the future, showcasing that through adversity, hope is still very much alive. In an effort to revive and keep the doors of affected small businesses open, AVBOB is throwing a lifeline to SMMEs and NGOs through the establishment of a Special Disaster Relief Fund.
“As a responsible corporate citizen AVBOB believes it is critical that we provide assistance to the communities that we serve and which were affected, especially to SMMEs and uninsured businesses,” explains Carl van der Riet, AVBOB’s CEO.
This inspired the AVBOB Disaster Relief fund, through which the AVBOB Group aims to assist as many affected beneficiaries as possible. The current beneficiaries which were affected by the unrest in Kwa-Zulu-Natal and Gauteng, include Mamphego Phasha Studios, Shape Café, MamsFM, Rise Against Hunger, PlugOnLine, NguniBrand, Nguni Foods, NGOConnectSA and six informal traders.
Meet some of AVBOB’s Special Disaster Relief Fund beneficiaries
Shape Café is an African-inspired hybrid of coffee & ice-cream: a social enterprise operating in the Thabong Shopping Centre in Sebokeng township, outside Johannesburg and is serving a variety of premium coffee and ice-cream products at affordable prices.
“The community really came through for us with small donations from as little as ZAR 100 to ZAR 1 000,” says Itumeleng Hlapane (pictured), founder of Shape Café. “It is most humbling was when we got donations from unemployed community members who were saying “I do not have much, but here’s my donation. SHAPE Cafe dream cannot die.”
“The looting impact meant that we had to shut down our business from 12 July to 1 September 2021, with no income for that period,” Hlapane explains. “We unfortunately had to place employees on temporary retrenchment until further notice. We are a convenient business for many small businesses who uses our shop for meetings or who work from Shape Café. Since the looting, our customers are forced to travel at least 30km to find a coffee shop where they can work from.”
The AVBOB Disaster Relief fund enabled Hlapane to repurchase important machinery (including coffee, ice-free cream and slush machines) to restart operations and the rebuilding of his business.
Rise Against Hunger
Rise Against Hunger (RAH) Africa offers a social investment opportunity to provide fully-balanced meals for pre-school children, as well as facilitating disaster-relief efforts as and when they arise.
“Our Pinetown branch was the most affected and had to be closed for 10 days,” says Nadine Sandrock, who has been at the helm of RAH since its inception in 2009. “Our KwaZulu-Natal team were also impacted during the height of the unrest. Our supply chain for raw ingredients was impacted as many suppliers’ warehouses were destroyed during this time. It was very challenging to assist and reach people for meal support in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng as movement was restricted. Working with various other organisations, we managed to find solutions to provide the much-needed support.”
Rise Against Hunger Africa was able to raise over ZAR 2 million in funding from various corporates for their disaster relief efforts, equating to 690 000 meals. “AVBOB’s donation has allowed us to pack and distribute 219 934 meals,” Sandrock enthuses.
Latty Thlaka from NGOConnectSA continues to focus on achieving the goal of being a registered non-profit online information and youth development organisation based in South Africa. NGOConnectSA provides training and support, quality news and information about and for civil society. They have partnered with RebuildSA to assist with the relief efforts linked to the recent protests and looting.
“We respond, through our advocacy and outreach programme, to emergency needs,” explains Thlaka. “When looting and unrest took place affected communities became vulnerable to food insecurity and a decrease in affordability due to job losses. The AVBOB Disaster Relief Fund enabled us to address the issue of food insecurity by providing food packs to 600 families in six different affected communities.”
Mamphego Phasha Studios
Thebello Mothlokoa’s business has grown tremendously, working from a backroom to formally employing two community members in a fully-fledged design studio.
“The unrest brought so much pain to the company, clients and employees,” he says. “Not only did we lose equipment, we also lost clients’ work. We lost everything that we had worked hard for since 2016. The looting took away our confidence, dreams and passion projects. It left us with a huge scar. AVBOB not only helped us get our equipment back, but they restored our dreams and faith in humanity once again. We are still in awe, and no words can elaborate our gratitude. This is the South Africa that we have all been dreaming of and we’re glad to still see good deeds in motion. The donation has given us hope and helped us reignite our dreams and push even more.”
AVBOB says it is deeply involved in and committed towards the communities it serves through a wide array of initiatives, ultimately aimed at improving the quality of life for their beneficiaries. In this way, Africa’s largest mutual assurance, remains true to its brand promise: ‘We’re here for you®’.