Crèche owner fears closure of her business

Olgah Maseko's crèche is facing closure due to the lockdown.
Olgah Maseko's crèche is facing closure due to the lockdown.

A businesswoman in Mpumalanga is counting her losses and now her day care centre is facing closure due to the national lockdown.

Since the lockdown began, Olgah Maseko's crèche, Ice Age Educare, has been closed as children are now with their parents who are confined to their homes.

Maseko has been running Ice Age Educare in Leandra for almost five years after she bought it in November 2015.

Since the implementation of the national lockdown, all 38 children who go to the centre have not been able to do so.

"For us to survive, we need the money that is paid by parents; it's what keeps us going as a business. The lockdown has left us with no income," Maseko said.

"I went to the landlord to explain my predicament but he said he cannot change our arrangement because he has commitments to honour."

Maseko said her crèche was respected in the neighbourhood and has developed a good reputation with nearby Laerskool Leandra.

But to continue offering her service, Maseko has to keep paying rent of about R7,000 to the landlord as the crèche is run from a private property.

"The lockdown could not have happened at a worse time for me. I had just started applying to convert the business into a nonprofit organisation, then the lockdown came. if parents do not bring their children, they can't pay school fees and that leaves us with nothing," Maseko said.

She used all the savings her business had made to pay for the rent at the end of March but the money for April is yet to be settled. Ice Age Educare has five employees.

"I really pray for someone to help us. I was still in the process of re-launching the crèche under a new name and vision," Maseko said.

But the department of small business development said Maseko can receive aid from the government.

"As a registered business, Olgah is eligible and can apply for debt relief from the department of small business. The debt relief finance scheme is aimed at assisting businesses which are affected directly or indirectly due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The aim is to minimise the distress caused by the virus and assist SMMEs in sustaining operations and retaining jobs. If her employees are registered with UIF, she can apply for the employee relief through UIF," said department spokesperson Priscilla Monama.

Monama said if Maseko's employees were not registered for UIF, the department has an agreement with the department of employment and labour to assist small businesses which were previously not compliant on condition they acknowledge their debt and commit to repay UIF when their business stabilises.

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