College of Humanities

Social Relief of Distress Grant a Lifeline – research finding

The Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant has the potential to significantly relieve extreme poverty as well as kick-start entrepreneurial activities.

This was the finding of graduate Mr Ndumiso Mthalane during research for his Master’s degree in Social Sciences which, he says, shows that the use of the grant to launch ventures has a disproportionate positive impact on the livelihood strategies of the poor, making them self-sufficient, job creators, and not just job seekers.

Mthalane’s study further examined the nature of entrepreneurial activities made possible through the grant and its impact on the socio-economic conditions of households in Cato Manor, Durban.

Mthalane was a recipient of the SRD grant when he had no other source of income. In partnership with a friend, he decided to use the money to start a small business. ‘Even though it seemed like something minor, for us it was better than nothing. From selling chocolates, we made a small profit and were able to purchase groceries, soap, and pay for transport among other things,’ he said.

He emphasised that the SRD grant did not fully address poverty, unemployment, and inequality, but was a lifeline. ‘It helps those who were unemployed before COVID-19 as well as others who fall under the expanded definition of unemployment,’ said Mthalane.

The study found that the SRD grant had a significant role in addressing extreme poverty affecting poor South Africans and had been utilised to start various entrepreneurial activities.

Mthalane’s study also found a gap in the social security system as there was a large portion of unemployed working-age people who fell outside the South African social security system. However, the SRD grant proved to have a significant positive outcome for alleviating poverty for poor households and communities in South Africa.

During the course of his studies, he had been forced to rely on his family for financial support as he did not have funding. His family encouraged him, often making financial sacrifices so he could continue with his degree.

‘Besides having a dream of building a big house for my mother and giving her the best life, I also want to enrol in a PhD programme in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies.’

He had these encouraging words for colleagues: ‘Studying and completing your postgraduate degree is doable.’