WHY WE STARTED

We’re all feeling it. 

Perspective. Plight. Panic. 

As lockdown continues, even with the phased re-opening of our economy, I have guilt.

 

But not because of the 7 hours of solid screen time my kid consumes daily or the kilograms I’m gaining because I don’t have it in me to run marathons in my driveway. 

I have fear. But not because the alcohol content of my hand sanitizer isn’t adequate or because  someone ran past me without wearing a mask. 

I have anxiety. But not because I’m beyond useless at home-schooling (I’ve already accepted my son is coming out of this significantly worse off). 

I have pressure. But not to bake banana bread, or to meditate, or to learn a new language or to create sacred childhood memories during our precious time at home.  

No. I have guilt and fear and anxiety because there’s an economic bloodbath happening right outside my front door.

 

And I know you feel it too. 

The enormity of the deadly global pandemic & its subsequent financial crisis is weighing heavy on us all. 

And we are all looking for ways to help. 

 

On the 24th of March, just days before lockdown, I sent a message to some friends with a handful of ideas for the impending 21 days of financial pressure facing Individual Income Earners. The small business owners who earn only when they have access to their self-created trade. 

I suggested randomly calling an Uber driver and just giving a tip, paying your beautician for an “invisible / non existent” service for the month of lockdown, or to see if anyone needs a loan to be able to buy groceries in bigger quantities than normal. 

Those ideas were sweet. But that was then. Over two months ago. 

Today, still with a long way to go before we reach Level 1, we are taking on the fight of our lives together as a country. 

Launching Aloan Together #A Loan Not Alone

Allow me to introduce you to Calvin… and how I met him. I had just replaced two of my tires (to add insult to injury, I had replaced the other two the month before). This was back in February, in a pre-corona South Africa, when we were still driving around and hitting potholes. Feeling sulky and sorry for myself, I called an Uber to get home from Tiger Wheel & Tyre. My ride arrived and my driver made me laugh so hard that my bad day didn’t matter anymore. He's studying to be a tax consultant, and putting himself through university by driving people around every day, and studying by night. 

Except now he can’t. He’s barely going to make his car instalment payment this coming month. 

I touched base with Calvin this week. I thought about him and how he’s possibly surviving without any Uber work (how I tracked him down is a story for another day but it involved a call from an Uber agent in Egypt). Calvin shared his weekly Uber earnings with me. Down from R5000 a week, to R74. He applied for a bank holiday, but received an email reply saying “We’re experiencing a high volume of emails and will get back to you as soon as possible”. 

 

Then there’s Eunice. The expert eyebrow technician who decided to go solo, and left the salon she was working at, to travel door-to-door, using public transport, offering eyebrow plucking, shaping and tinting in the comfort of her client’s homes. Her dream is to travel to Israel with her Bible Studies group. She’s been saving for that for two years now. My best friend’s mom taught her how to swim. And now she visits a public pool and swims laps everyday. 

Calvin drives. Eunice styles brows. And I have a list of another 10 wonderful, ambitious, self-driven, honourable Individual Income Earners like them. 

 

There is no one for them to turn to. The Government’s Small Business Debt Finance Schemes have been bombarded with desperate applications for financial relief. Many of the schemes are already capped. And the hard truth is that none of these one man and woman businesses would ever have met the qualifying criteria anyway.

 

Their intention has never been to be given money, they are proud and capable and always earn their own way. But now they can't, because they are being responsible and doing the right thing. And even with South Africa’s phased re-opening of the economy, they will not be returning to ‘business as normal’ for a very long time. 

 

Aloan Together aims to respond to their plight by crowdfunding to raise interest free loans, creating a partnership of mutual dignity. 

Some of the loan amounts required start from R3 000 (or you can contribute towards a crowd funded loan from as little as R500). You can choose to help a specific Individual Income Earner or we can match you, you’ll learn their story, and become part of it too (you can also remain anonymous).

And that amount will alleviate some of the anxiety, fear and panic that these Individual Income Earners are facing. From what I’ve experienced so far, just knowing that someone cares, is worth even more in morale than it is in Rand value. 

 

A trust based gesture of hope and kindness. You may see your money paid back, you may loan it to someone who sadly just cannot manage to repay you no matter how honourable their intentions.

But for those loans that are repaid, it will forever stay with you as testament to our shared connectivity and kindness. And restore your faith in humanity like never before, as we struggle through this global crisis.
 
Yes, we are all starting to feel the economic pressure, I do not say that lightly. My husband sits at his laptop having conference calls from 8am till 2am, without much certainty for the long-term viability of his business. But as long as it is within the realm of possibility for me to lend out money that I don't urgently need right now, I will loan the money. 

 

Everyone knows a Calvin and a Eunice. 

Let's give them a loan so that they are not alone. 

Dani Silbermann

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