Avbob assists small businesses with R10m relief fund

Avbob CEO Carl van der Riet believes it’s critical to assist the communities the insurer serves to rebuild after July’s looting

Itumeleng Hlapane, founder and CEO of Shape Café.
Itumeleng Hlapane, founder and CEO of Shape Café.
Image: Supplied/Avbob

For more than 20 years, Mpume Ntaka from Mfume, 30km south of Durban, has been selling fruit and vegetables in Isipingo. This came to an abrupt halt in July 2021, when the large-scale destruction of property and businesses swept through KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. 

Many small, uninsured businesses were destroyed, leaving owners and employees without recourse. Recognising their need for assistance, Avbob established the R10m Avbob Disaster Relief Fund, which is helping as many affected beneficiaries as possible.

Mpume Ntaka.
Mpume Ntaka.
Image: Suppplied/Avbob

The management of the local Isipingo life office, which serves the Isipingo area, identified six informal traders who operate in the vicinity of the branch to apply for assistance. As these informal traders sell mainly perishable fruit and vegetables and snacks, the proposed donation was a package consisting of a gazebo, table, tablecloth, chair and stock. 

The support from the Avbob Disaster Relief Fund will give Ntaka, and other informal traders, a financial boost and an opportunity to start over and buy fresh stock.

“The place where I store my stock was looted, and we had nothing to sell,” Ntaka says. “Isipingo was badly affected by the riots and many stores closed or destroyed. We lost a lot of customers and money and couldn’t feed our families.”

Beneficiaries set to rebuild their businesses

Avbob CEO Carl van der Riet said the insurer believes it’s critical to assist the communities it serves that were affected by the looting, especially SMMEs and uninsured businesses.

“Avbob is involved with and committed to the communities we serve through a wide spectrum of initiatives aimed at improving lives. In this way, we remain true to our brand promise ‘We’re here for you’.”

The fund’s beneficiaries include Sukuma Primary School and six informal traders who operate near the Isipingo life office. Mamphego Phasha Studios, Shape Café, Mams FM, Rise Against Hunger Africa and NGOConnectSA have already been selected as beneficiaries for funding. The fund has provided R2.5m in support to 16 uninsured businesses, NGOs and organisations affected by the KZN and Gauteng unrest. 

Sukuma Primary School

Sukuma Primary School in Umlazi offers extramural activities and programmes to learners from the community. School principal Anne Makhanya says the riots and looting severely affected the pupils and hindered their progress at school. “Classroom doors were vandalised and kitchen stoves and buckets stolen. Pre-school chairs, class teachers’ chairs, roof paint, our SA flag and the solar panels from our container library were all stolen.”

With assistance from the Avbob Disaster Relief Fund, Sukuma Primary School can repair the damages and replace the stolen goods. In 2018, Avbob donated a container library, enabling the school to improve its pupils’ reading skills. “Our hope is that the school will continue to offer valuable service to the learners and the community of Umlazi after receiving assistance from Avbob,” says Makhanya.

Shape Café (Sebokeng branch)

Thebello Mothlokoa, owner of Mamphego Phasha Studios.
Thebello Mothlokoa, owner of Mamphego Phasha Studios.
Image: Supplied/Avbob

Shape Café is as a convenient venue for small businesses to work from and is the only coffee shop in the Vaal area. After its closure, customers were forced to travel far distances to find alternative venues.

“We had to shut down our business from July 12 to September 1 2021, with no income for that period,” says Itumeleng Hlapane, founder and CEO of Shape Café. “With help from the Avbob Disaster Relief Fund, we bought machinery (coffee, ice cream and slush machines) to start operating and rebuild our business.” 

Mamphego Phasha Studios

Losing clients and employees due to the unrest resulted in devastating financial losses and also stripped business owners of their confidence, dreams and passion.

“We lost everything we had worked for since the company’s formation in 2016,” says Thebello Mothlokoa, owner of Mamphego Phasha Studios. “We lost faith in the ability to rebuild, leaving us feeling disheartened. However, through Avbob’s fund we were able to buy new equipment, which has restored my faith and dreams in humanity.”

The Avbob Disaster Relief Fund remains committed to uplifting communities affected by the looting. The initiative aims to equip current and future beneficiaries with meaningful support and, in doing so, alleviate the impact and sense of loss experienced by many small businesses and entrepreneurs. 

This article was paid for by Avbob.