The Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Nomusa Dube-Ncube has announced the sixty (60) Youth Owned businesses that are the beneficiaries of the R 90 million KwaZulu-Natal Youth Empowerment Fund. The Premier also announced that the new window for the R100 million funding will be opened soon.
The Youth Fund was established by the Office of the Premier in 2018 as part of government’s concerted effort to crank up youth development and empowerment in the province. It is structured in such a way that 90% of the Fund received by each beneficiary is channelled to buy them equipment in order to lower their cost of business, while 10% is for working capital.
During the first phase, which opened in 2018, R60 million was disbursed to 51 youth owned businesses. During the current phase, which was opened in July 2021, a total of 4016 applications were received for funding. Of those applications 2854 were disqualified for various compliance and other reasons while 1 162 were processed by the KwaZulu-Natal Growth Fund, an entity of Government that is responsible for disbursement process and management the Youth Fund.
A further rigorous evaluation process was undertaken, and 352 applications were shortlisted for the due diligence stage and ultimately site visits were conducted, which resulted in the fifty-nine (59) that are today the recipients of the funding.
The funding ranges from R 200 000 to R 2 million. The youth owned businesses that benefited from this window, operate in various and strategic sectors like water security, transport and logistics, farming technology, digital economy, automotive and maritime industries.
“We could not have asked for a better present to mark the close of Women’s Month as evidenced by the fact that 42% of the approved applicants are women. This is a significant improvement if we consider that only 15% women applicants had benefitted previously. Our goal, moving forward, is to ensure, at least, a 50-50 access between men-owned and women-owned businesses”, said the Premier Dube Ncube
The Premier added that today is a great day for the people of KwaZulu-Natal because it marks an important milestone in government’s quest to push back the frontiers of the stubbornly high rate of youth unemployment in the province.
“Therefore, today marks the occasion when we are meeting to fulfil the solemn pledge we made when we delivered our State of the Province Address under the theme: “Taking Decisive Action in the time of Renewal and Hope as we Rebuild a Better, Prosperous, and Resilient KwaZulu-Natal” said the Premier.
The Youth Empowerment Fund does not stand in isolation from the Provincial Government programme of action, but forms part of the continuum of interventions in the government’s agenda to create jobs.
“We are encouraged by the fact that there is adequate geographic spread in terms of the distribution of beneficiaries as they come from across all the districts in the province. We are decisively addressing the divide between urban and rural; poor and affluent. We believe that all our people must benefit equally from government’s interventions”, concluded the Premier.
The Fund also approved businesses that are owned and managed by unemployed graduates and youths from professional sectors such as medical, engineering and accounting disciplines.