Despite the South African economy having contracted by 7% year-on-year in 2020, marking the worst annual performance in the history of the country’s economic data recording, the Covid Business Rescue Assistance (Cobra) initiative has managed to save dozens of businesses and thousands of jobs.

Through the success of its collaborative business assistance model, Cobra says it shows South Africa’s need for innovative solutions to save and bolster the businesses that have survived the economic ravages of the last year.

“These solutions will require a fundamental rethink of how South Africans do business.

Cobra is South Africa’s largest nonprofit organisation for distressed businesses. It was started in March 2020 by management consultancy IQbusiness, law firm Schindlers Attorneys and turnaround experts Engaged Business Turnaround, as well as an ecosystem of 90 partner enterprises.

It was formed in response to the need to support small and medium-sized businesses through the darkest months of lockdown and the ongoing economic crisis.

To date, Cobra has assisted more than 320 businesses with direct assistance — many of which would have failed without the help that was made available from the team of experts.

This has translated into more than 2 000 jobs being saved, allowing families and their dependants to keep food on their tables. The businesses saved operations across a diverse range of sectors, including the retail, automotive and restaurant industries.

Cobra’s virtual war room brings together the expertise of a diverse range of professionals in law, business, technology and consulting to assist businesses that are in financial distress.

This collaborative model sees a range of businesses and professionals working together in an effort to help ailing businesses. It is an effective and innovative answer to the question of how we can save both small and large businesses in a recession without government bailouts.

The organisation is motivated by the shared recognition that ensuring the survival of the South African economy is a priority that must be undertaken as an act of good corporate citizenship. “When the economy suffers, we all suffer; when the economy grows, there are more opportunities for everyone to become prosperous,” Cobra states.

Cobra believes thousands more businesses and jobs can be saved by sharing knowledge, skills and expertise with distressed businesses that are navigating an uncertain future in an increasingly constrained economy.

“South Africans are an agile and resilient people, who continuously adapt in the face of difficult change. There is no reason why our businesses cannot embody this commitment through Cobra as we work to save businesses, save jobs and secure a more hopeful future.”


Related Tags: Small Business Assistance, Business Support, Turnaround Management