Businesses are working hard to pick up the pieces and rebuild following the July riots. However, larger businesses tend to have the resources to recover more quickly, while for smaller businesses, a lack of resources means some may never recover.
It was predominantly KwaZulu-Natal, with a few parts of Gauteng that were badly hit by the looting and destruction and a month later, many businesses are still working to recover and to get back into the groove of things.
Big businesses and small businesses alike were adversely affected.
Massmart, who operates Makro, Builders Warehouse and many other outlets, got hit hard.
“We’ve got about 43 stores that were damaged and looted and we’re busy now rebuilding, some of them luckily are back in operation and we’ve reopened them.
We’ll be opening more in the next month or so and some may take longer than others, especially our Makro stores that were damaged in Pietermaritzburg, Springfield and our distribution Centre in River Valley in Durban will also take a bit of time,” says Massmart Chairman Kuseni Dlamini.
Massmart says the cooperation between business and local and national government since the crisis has been impressive. This has helped to reinforce its zeal to rebuild and optimise for the future.
Government plans to assist businesses affected by the unrest:
Massmart says it sees prospects to create economic opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses through its supply chain post the crisis.
“We’re very open to engagement; we’re very open to look for partners that we can work with because as a retailer we are actually a route to the market, we’re like a conduit between our suppliers and the end consumer, so we would like to be open with great ideas and good products that we can be able to supply to our end consumers,” adds Dlamini.
For those businesses that are insured and will benefit from South African Special Risks Insurance Association (SASRIA) cover, it’s quite a process.
The Black Business Council says it is helping its members with applications in this regard, as many of them have businesses either in malls or townships.
And there are concerns about the turnaround time of the applications.
“We are worried about the speed with which these applications are going to be processed. Yes, we heard representation from our colleague that there is a dedicated process that is now in place and that they would, and they will fast track the process of the applications,” says CEO of Black Business Council Gregory Mofokeng.
When it comes to the SASRIA claims, the Black Business Council has also pointed to what it sees as the unfairness around the businesses benefiting from contracts to fix the destruction that happened in July.
“If you look at what is happening with SASRIA, for example, the loss assessors that are now going out to ascertain
the loss are mainly white companies, the people that are being called to come and fix the damage that was caused are also white companies.
And you will find that when you engage the insurance companies and SASRIA to say where are the black companies that are supposed to also be included in the work that must be done, the answer that we get is that they don’t know where black business is,” Mofokeng adds.
While some businesses will eventually pick up again due to insurance cover and perhaps re-attuning themselves to the market post the riots, for many small businesses, July’s events literally destroyed any prospect they had, as many of them were not insured to begin with.