The R50 million fund, an entity under the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, was created to help deserving youth who don’t qualify for bank loans, either due to a lack of collateral or credit history, to kick-start or grow existing business ventures.

Acting KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala, who launched the fund, explained that the youth were targeted because they’re one of the groups hardest hit by the country’s almost stagnant economy. “A sizeable number of our youth are trapped in unemployment and poverty. It is therefore important that as government we intervene in order to assist young people to navigate through these challenges.”

He went on to say that this was also part of the provincial government’s Youth Economic Empowerment Strategy, which is to ensure a shift in thinking – taking the youth from “job seekers” to “job creators”.

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Entrepreneurs looking to access the fund are encouraged to tap into industries that contribute more meaningfully to the economic growth and the development of the province. Examples of these sectors include agriculture, textile, mineral beneficiation, energy and maritime industries.

Zikalala said: “Through this fund, we will ensure that youth entrepreneurs who are funded are mentored by a qualified business mentor for a minimum of two years. This will ensure sustainability of new businesses during their critical start-up phase. We have undertaken to ensure this support for youth entrepreneurs from the captains of industry attached to the KZN Growth Coalition, KZN Economic Council and chambers of commerce across the province.”

The fund is currently taking in new applications until the end of February. If you’re interested in applying for funding or want more information, visit your nearest District Municipality, or the Office of the Premier, as well as the KZN Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs.

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Applicants will need to provide a business proposal, company registration document, proof of residence and valid tax clearance certificate.

How the fund will work

The fund will provide help in four broad categories:

1. Seed capital

2. Collateral support

3. Business development services such as constant coaching, business plan guidance, regulatory compliance and business etiquette

4. Fund innovation and exchange programmes.