Mar 26, 2020

Oppenheimers and Johann Rupert Donate R1 Bn Each to Aid Small Businesses Hit by COVID-19 in S. Africa

Two prominent South African business families closely linked to the luxury goods sector, the Oppenheimers who formerly owned De Beers and Johann Rupert Chairman of Compagnie Financiere Richemont, known for its brands Cartier and Montblanc, have come forward to donate R1 billion each to assist small businesses and their employees affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement came soon after the South African government, under President Cyril Ramaphosa had earlier this week announced the setting up of a fund with a seed capital of R150 million for the purpose of helping people affected by consequences of the coronavirus and appealed to the business community and citizens to extend their support to this initiative.

“The Solidarity Fund will be administered by a reputable team of people, drawn from financial institutions, accounting firms and government. It will fully account for every cent contributed and will publish the details on the website. It will have a board of eminent South Africans to ensure proper governance,” the government had said.

Nicky Oppenheimer, and his Jonathan, are the third and fourth generation of the family that led diamond miner De Beers from its inception. Nicky sold his 40% stake in De Beers to Anglo American in 2012.

In a joint statement, the father-son duo said that being proud South Africans, they welcomed the government’s robust and timely efforts to stem the tide of the coronavirus. “Our aim is to mitigate the immediate economic impact of this pandemic, by keeping companies in business and protecting jobs, in order to fast-track our economic recovery. We will do this by providing direct financial assistance to employees who are at risk of losing their jobs, or have suffered a loss of income, because of Covid-19.”

The two said that an agency – independent of the Oppenheimer family - will be created to administer the funding. It should have a continued role in boosting economic growth and job creation long after this crisis has passed, they said.

"We must applaud the commitment made in this time of crisis by the Rupert and Oppenheimer families of R1 billion each to assist small businesses and their employees affected by the coronavirus pandemic," S. African President Ramaphosa told the media.