‘It’s a straight donation:’ Nicky Oppenheimer says in rare interview on COVID-19

Image credit: CNBC Africa

Billionaire businessman Nicky Oppenheimer has moved to clarify the R1 billion donation he and his son Jonathan have made to assist small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) affected by COVID-19.

In a rare TV interview he granted CNBC Africa on Tuesday, the 75-year-old Oppenheimer said the money is a “straight donation.”

He added that the SA Future Trust, which he and Jonathan established but will have no interest in, will administer the donation.

‘Money indeed a straight donation’

Oppenheimer said, “This idea developed, which I’m very proud of, to give money through a Trust which we will have no interest in. So, the money we’re giving is indeed a straight donation to small and medium businesses going through these difficult times.”

Some observers have expressed surprise that the donation will be administered as loans, albeit interest-free, to SMMEs.

On Tuesday, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said the Oppenheimer and Johann Rupert donations are “dependency-building investments by capital that will entrap SMMEs and the state into un-repayable loans and future corrupt dealings.”

However, Oppenheimer said the loan repayments will be used to create and assist future SMMEs as part of wider employment creation initiatives.

‘Creating new businesses and employment’

He explained, “The Trust is going to be completely independent of the Oppenheimers. It’s going to have independent trustees and they will run it.

“Our hope is, in time, some of this money would flow back to the Trust and once the COVID-19 crisis has passed, the Trust would be dedicated to creating new businesses and creating employment in South Africa which is so important to all of us.”

According to Forbes’ daily tracking of billionaires, Oppenheimer is currently South Africa’s richest man with an estimated net worth of $7.5 billion (around R135 billion).

His sister, Mary Oppenheimer, and her daughters announced on Tuesday that they will be donating a separate R1 billion to the COVID-19 Solidarity Fund.

In a statement, she said, “My daughters and I have thought long and hard about where we could make the greatest difference in this fight and have decided it is to support the humanitarian needs of everyone living in South Africa.

“So, we think that it is the Solidarity Fund which is most aligned to our concerns about basic needs about food, medicine, general care and gender abuse.”

To watch Nicky Oppenheimer’s interview on CNBC Africa‘s website, click here.

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