Finance alternatives – 12J lessening the COVID-load

Finance Alternatives: Sunstone Capital & Decentral Energy Fund Manager, Avi Gordon addresses how Section 12J is assisting in lessening the impact of COVID-19 on sectors of the economy.
Grovest Corporate Advisory Opinions
Grovest Corporate Advisory Opinions

The effects of COVID is pervasive across all sectors of the economy. One of the biggest challenges to commerce going forward is the sweeping impact this will have on the lending ability of banks and traditional finance houses to support the needs of the economy.

Pre COVID, South Africa was already known to be a challenging environment for businesses with an estimated credit gap of over R300 billion for SME’s alone.  This means that a lack of access to ready finance is hampering the ability of our SME’s to scale, grow, and meet demand.

The challenges in accessing this finance can largely be attributed to:

  1. Strong risk aversion from financial institutions to fund SMEs.
  2. Associated high levels of scrutiny and the challenge of meeting the complex documentation requirements and corporate governance hurdles set out by these institutions.
  3. A lack of flexibility in the approach from institutions in their view on securities and assets.
  4. The regulatory environment which is the National Credit Act and it’s regulation of reckless lending.

How 12J is helping close the gap:

Various players in the key 12J targeted sectors have come up with creative solutions which aim at creating value for their investors whilst simultaneously providing attractive alternatives to traditional bank finance.

Two examples are:

  1. Off-balance sheet clean energy solutions and
  2. operating asset rentals.

1)     Off-balance sheet clean energy solutions:

This means that landlords/business owners can enter into an agreement to purchase a portion of their energy directly from a 12J Solar asset in order to benefit from a cost saving of up to 40% on any energy used. What makes this solution attractive is that clients can leverage the experience and the expertise of energy experts without taking on the debt/capital intensive installation cost and risk.


  1. Off-balance sheet – This type of contract is unique, being a PPA (power purchase agreement) which is an agreement to purchase any energy produced by the solar asset which is to be installed on their roof. Being structured as a sale agreement as opposed to a lease means that there is no stress placed on the client’s balance sheet.
  2. No capital outlay – the fund will develop and own the entire solar kit and all associated installation costs.
  3. Reduced overheads – from the first invoice clients are saving on their monthly overheads by reducing their energy expenses on a monthly basis.

2)     Operating asset rentals:

Funds like Sunstone make investments into rental companies that own and lease assets to SME’s. By going into depth to understand a sector (e.g. commercial vehicles) these focused funds are able to provide an administratively efficient and cost-effective rental solution to allow these businesses to meet market demand with greater flexibility.


  1. Fixed rentals – this allows for predictable monthly costs for our clients as well as dependable returns for investors
  2. Asset underpinned, the fund (through the companies it invests in) owns the operating assets which serve as security over the course of the rental (commercial fleet vehicles, Outdoor media assets, Lodge specialized golf carts, ride-hailing vehicles, medical assets such as dentist chairs)
  3. High liquidity, – all of these assets have a strong secondary market, this means that in the event of default or resale there exists a ready market allowing us to convert assets to cash at a rapid rate.

These solutions offer attractive alternatives to the aforementioned challenges associated with the traditional finance route by taking the strain off of balance sheets and providing more flexible access to equipment.

While these are both conservative-moderate asset underpinned investments which generally would only attract modest returns, investors that go through the 12J fund earn a full tax deduction on all which boosts returns in the region of 18-20%.

To invest in or to find out more about either of these investment strategies contact

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