The Solidarity Fund that President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last Monday has raised over R500 million from corporates, government and individuals who have donated their own money in its first week in operation.

Launched with R150 million seed capital donated by the state, the fund is run by the private sector and allows individuals, companies and members of the international community to make tax-deductible donations. It is aimed at supporting vulnerable South Africans by focusing on containing the spread of the virus and providing care for ill individuals.

However, the fund will not be funding small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), said deputy chairperson of the Solidarity Fund, Adrian Enthoven, on Monday. It is also not a mechanism to fund non-governmental organisations, added the fund’s chairperson, Gloria Serobe.

Updating the media on the first week of the fund, Enthoven and Serobe clarified that it would focus on health response, humanitarian efforts and on driving a solidarity campaign through mobilising and motivating South African citizens to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

This comes as confirmed infections in SA rose to 1 280 on Sunday. 

“In relation to the SMMEs, I think there’s been some confusion…Our direct focus is not to provide and support SMMEs. There’s an initiative between Business for South Africa and the Command Council to try and come up with support measures and packages with government to support SMMEs. But the fund is not in a position to provide soft loans or support SMMEs,” said Enthoven.

As far as its focus areas are concerned, the Fund has made R100 million available as working capital to urgently fund purchase of critical medical supplies to protect health workers. R52 million of this will go towards purchasing 5 million surgical masks.

Governance

The Solidarity Fund is not administering donations made by some of the country’s wealthiest families. In the past week, the Rupert and Oppenheimer families, as well as the Motsepe Foundation, each donated R1 billion towards solidarity efforts but they will administer those themselves, said Enthoven.

As for the donations that are administered directly by the fund, Serobe said they will frequently report on all donations received and how they are spent. The Fund will be administered by Old Mutual, while auditing firm EY and law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (ENSafrica) have developed a framework that will determine how and where donations received are spent.

“We will be in a position to announce the board members very soon,” said Serobe. “We think that it is a board that this country will be excited to see because it is a combination of all the skills that we are talking about, auditing, financing, skills on working with the civil society and working with the social partners. It will be a combined board that makes sense to all South Africans.”

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