Face masks have quickly become a necessity for any South African stepping outside of their homes during lockdown, but as with all gear related to fighting the spread of COVID-19, there are shortages.

This is the case not only for South Africa, but most of the world too, which is why the The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), are calling for local SMMEs to apply for funding in order to manufacture face masks.

“This initiative aims to provide relief for SMMEs that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and is open to both formal and informal traders operating in the Gauteng and Northern Cape Provinces,” the SALGA explained in an announcement earlier today.

“Successful applicants will receive financial support to help recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and are required to produce fabric face masks using these funds. Together we can reduce the spread of the virus, save lives and support small businesses,” the organisation adds.

Applications can be made here, with the requirements for eligibility listed too.

The nuanced list of criteria from the SALGA is as follows:

  • “Evidence of B-BBEE status level of contribution 
  • For formal businesses, evidence of registration and compliance with CIPC, SARS, UIF, and the National SMME Database. Note this is not required for informal businesses. 
  • Where businesses have already certified the quality and performance of their fabric face masks, please provide the necessary evidence. Evidence will be required to confirm that face masks meet the necessary quality and performance guidelines as outlined by the Department of Trade, Industry & Competition 
  • Where face masks have not yet been certified, please indicate this. Mask design specifications will be requested as part of the application in order to assess mask quality. 
  • Evidence of a loss of income due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Reasons may include a disruption in businesses operations and the consequential loss of income due to staff being incapacitated as a result of COVID 19, or a decrease in market demand during the lock down. 
  • Where businesses have repurposed their operations in order to sustain an income during the pandemic, this should be indicated (e.g. clothing manufactures adapting to produce textile based personal protective equipment). 
  • Evidence of innovative approaches to face mask manufacture or business operations e.g. use of innovative materials, designs to increase comfort, designs to promote usage through fashion, where manufacturing lines were adapted to make PPE, etc. 
  • Indicate mask price and production capacity (e.g. 100 masks per week). This will be used to gauge if masks are competitively and fairly priced and will be judged against market related prices and against the prices of masks from other applicants. 
  • Evidence of the business belonging to a South African citizen with a valid SA identity document. 
  • Evidence that the business has been in the Clothing and Textile sector for at least one year (including a record of transaction for the same period). 
  • An indication of the mask manufacturing site. This could be a home address or any site that can be visited for validation. 
  • Provide a list of clients who can confirm purchase of related products over time. 
  • Provide a valid home address, a recent municipal utility bill, a bank account and a contactable phone number.”

Should you meet the exhaustive list of criteria, applications close at midnight on 23rd June.

[Image – United Nations COVID-19 Response on Unsplash]