Business Insider Edition

Johann Rupert's R1bn: More than 10 000 applications in 3 days

Business Insider SA
 Apr 06, 2020, 09:10 PM
johann rupert
Johann Rupert. Photo: Cornel van Heerden
  • More than 10 000 applications have been received for Johann Rupert’s R1 billion donation to offset the effects of the Covid-19 crisis.
  • The application process has now been closed, after just three days. 
  • Businesses could apply for R25 000 in cash, plus a low-interest loan of up to R1 million.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider's home page.


Following 10 000 applications in just three days, the Sukuma Relief Programme – launched with a R1 billion donation from Johann Rupert – has now been closed for new applicants.

The fund received applications for more than R2.8 billion in relief.

“This exceeds the available donated capital of R1 billion almost three times over. As such, we have decided to suspend access to the application portal with immediate effect,” says Ben Bierman, managing director at Business Partners, which administers the fund.

The high number of applicants illustrates the crippling impact that the Covid-19 crisis is having on South African small businesses, he says.

There were two relief options for applicants. Entrepreneurs (formal sole proprietors) could get R25 000 in cash – which is a once-off grant, and doesn’t have to be repaid. 

Companies, as well as close corporations and trusts, could also get the cash payment of R25 000, plus a low-interest loan with a 12-month repayment holiday. Loans of between R250 000 and R1 million were available.

Read: Here's how much Rupert, Oppenheimer will be worth after donating R1 billion each

“We will now be using the next seven days to assess the applications received and provide feedback to the applicants. Should we thereafter find that there is still capital available, either because some of the applicants were not verified and approved, or because we have managed to secure additional capital, we will then open the programme for applications again,” says Bierman.

Payouts will be made within seven days of application, if approved. “We understand that many businesses are currently in need of immediate financial relief,” says Bierman.

He stressed that Business Partners will not profit from the funding in any way, and that no fees will be charged. Rupert will not get any of his donation back.

The EFF has accused Rupert and Nicky Oppenheimer of extending “exploitative loans disguised as donations”, after disappointment that their donations were not outright payments to businesses.

Bierman said that the repayment of the loans is an appeal to beneficiaries to “pay it forward” once their businesses are back on their feet, to allow for the continuing support of other small businesses into the future

Business Partners will launch a similar initiative for its own clients over the next couple of days, for which it will use its own funds.

Read | The Oppenheimers' R1bn donation: How businesses, workers can get a slice of the money

Billionaire Patrice Motsepe – via the Motsepe Foundation and his associated companies – has also donated R1 billion. but that money will be used to help buy and distribute water and healthcare products across the country. 

Read | Here's how much Patrice Motsepe will be worth after donating R1 billion

Naspers is donating R1.5 billion which will be used to buy medical supplies for South Africa and includes a donation of R500 million to the Solidarity Response Fund, an independent relief fund announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week to mitigate the impact of the disease. 

Read | Here's how much Rupert, Oppenheimer will be worth after donating R1 billion each

Rupert is among the top 300 richest people in the world, with a total net worth of around R90 billion.

The 69-year-old chair one of one of the world’s biggest luxury conglomerates, Richemont, which owns brands like Mont Blanc and Cartier. Richemont was created from the assets of Remgro, which was founded almost 80 years ago by Rupert’s father, Anton. 

Rupert is still chairperson of Remgro, which has investments in many large South African companies including MediClinic, Distell, FirstRand, RMI (OUTsurance) - as well as the Blue Bulls. He also chairs the international investment fund Reinet (named after Anton Rupert’s birthplace, Graaff Reinet in the Eastern Cape), which owns a stake in British American Tobacco (Dunhill, Lucky Strike and Rothmans).

Rupert has a long involvement with small businesses, and in 1981 founded the Small Business Development Corporation, which funded entrepreneurs. It later became Business Partners. He still has a minority stake in the business. 

Rupert is a popular target of the EFF, who view him as the face of white monopoly capital (WMC) – although it has since emerged that EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu spent time with Rupert at an exclusive wine estate in Stellenbosch to discuss potential business plans.

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