R180m Covid-19 boost from entities linked to late billionaire Allan Gray

04 May 2020 - 18:09 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
The late Allan Gray's various entities have made R180m available to fight the pandemic.
The late Allan Gray's various entities have made R180m available to fight the pandemic.

Various philanthropic entities linked to billionaire Allan Gray have made R180m available to help with the economic, educational and medical shortages created by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The contribution will look to not only make an immediate impact on the crisis but will also take a long-term approach in assisting those South Africans affected,” said the donors.

The funding is a collaborative effort of various entities within the "Gray philanthropy ecosystem", including Allan & Gill Gray Philanthropy, Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Endowment, E2 and Allan Gray Orbis Foundation.

“In allocating the R180m commitment, the Gray philanthropy ecosystem is mindful of the pervasive impact of the pandemic, as well as its likely longer-term impact,” said Anthony Farr, chief executive of Allan & Gill Gray Philanthropy in Africa.

“The response seeks to address both the immediate welfare and economic impact, as well as keeping a smaller resource available for future responses as the full consequences of the pandemic unfolds.”

Farr said each entity would have its own area of responsibility, aligned to its specific mandate.

“The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation provided support for Allan Gray Scholars, Candidate Fellows and Fellows; the E2 Trust made necessary adjustments in support of investee companies and the Allan & Gill Gray Philanthropy initiative and Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Endowment made small emergency relief grants available to grantees,” he said.

According to the group, in the first phase of the donation, the following immediate funding will be made available: 

  • R50m to the Solidarity Fund;
  • R50m to support small businesses dealing with the fallout from Covid-19;
  • R20m to Covid-19 Innovation and Response Fund – an initiative that the Gray philanthropy ecosystem will establish to fund businesses and start-ups who are providing products and services that are either highly innovative or essential in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic;
  • R10m to fund a Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (CRAM) - a survey of a nationally representative sample of 10,000 South Africans every month over the next six months, helping to create a six-wave panel survey to track changes in social and economic outcomes over the period; and
  • R10m towards additional support in Namibia (R5m), Botswana (R3.5m) and eSwatini (R1.5m) in accordance with the Gray philanthropic footprint in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

“However, because the struggle with the virus is set to be a long one with echoing repercussions, over 20% of the funding (R40m) is being held back for initiatives that will have a catalytic and strategic response beyond the immediate,” said Farr.

“Ultimately, the Allan and Gill Gray philanthropy ecosystem is striving to ensure they bring to life the core beliefs of their founders, Allan and Gill Gray, for whom philanthropy and business are inescapably entwined. We have heeded the call of our government to stand in unity with South Africans in the fight against the coronavirus, and we are pleased to be able to assist those who are currently in need.”