Coronavirus: Andile Ramaphosa’s Project is Helping the Jobless

"I have a big family to look out for. My brother died so I look after his six children, then I have three of my own children and my wife to worry about."

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Andile Ramaphosa, son of President Cyril Ramaphosa, and businessmen Brad Fisher have set up a project to enable micro-suppliers to earn a living during the national lockdown.

Andile owns SDI (Supplier Development Initiatives) a company that introduces micro-suppliers to larger companies. SDI is an existing services-on-demand platform that uplifts micro-suppliers across multiple industries.

Fisher and Andile have set up a new programme, SDI Force, which gathers donations for personal protective equipment (PPE) and clothing to enable micro-suppliers to earn a living while doing their bit to combat the virus.

SDI Force was initially set up to focus on and assist the homeless in and around Johannesburg during the lockdown period, by providing logistical support and food-packs, sanitisers and other essentials.

The founders say it soon became apparent that the programme could, in fact, by virtue of its access to and relationship with the micro suppliers and other top platforms.

Already involved are cleaning company Sweepsouth, ride-hailing service Bolt, waste recycling company Wastepreneurs, brand activators Tradeways, logistics company Loadit, survey and data capturing company Aweh and appliance service company Easyfix, which together represent about 50,000 workers in Johannesburg. The plan is to roll out the system in other cities.

SDI Force said the value the organisation has always recognised in these micro-suppliers has not gone unnoticed by the government. The organisation has now partnered with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the Department of Social Development and the City of Joburg in collaboration with the Gauteng MEC Panyaza Lesufi.

“We are in uncertain times, and everyone is anxious,” explains Brad Fisher, ADreach managing director and co-founder of SDI.

“But as much as it’s difficult to be quarantined in our homes, things are far worse for those whose livelihoods are already compromised.

“Waste collectors, robot traders and car guards play an integral role in our society, and this lockdown is going to completely cut them off from their everyday source of income. We need to assist them. If we don’t, they will not survive. It’s that simple.”

Sweepsouth CEO Aisha Pandor told the Sunday Times that 3,000 cleaners on the company’s books – many of whom are single mothers – are receiving between R150 and R400 a week from a fund the company established to support them, but this is not nearly enough.

“We’ve had amazing support from customers who have contributed to the fund, and around 40% of the customers are still paying cleaners despite them not being at work. The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation have also donated R6m for the fund,” she said.

“But donations [of PPE] would allow these women to get back to work with no risk of spreading or catching the virus.”

Ronald Sibeko works at Loadit, which connects drivers who own trucks with those needing their services. The lockdown almost wiped out his income.

“I have a big family to look out for. My brother died so I look after his six children, then I have three of my own children and my wife to worry about. So now, with no work, I was facing big trouble,” Sibeko told the Sunday Times.

The scope and focus of SDI Force has now been broadened to include the elderly and other groups of people with a view to assisting in meeting their needs on a national basis during this lockdown period and beyond, the organisation said.

“This is a massive challenge and we are appealing to you to not only contribute your smarts, but use your social media network to gain far-reaching support for this initiative.”

Faced with what our President has described as “…a medical emergency far graver then what we have experienced in the last 100 years…” SDI realised that it is precisely these micro-suppliers who could play a much-needed role in ensuring the delivery of a multitude of critical services that would be required in ensuring that we win this war against the virus, from both a medical and socio-economic perspective,” explains Andile, SDI co-founder.

“It is with this in mind that SDI has put together a team of experts, who will operate under the banner of SDI Force, to ensure that this network of micro suppliers, will ultimately allow us access up to 50 000 activators on the ground, that are experienced at working with technology, are able to play a much-needed role during these trying and difficult times”

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