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DEVELOPMENT FINANCE INSTITUTIONS DELIVER PROGRESS

The masses of historically disadvantaged South Africans at whom all the development initiatives of Ithala Development Finance Corporation are aimed, will be given top priority in keeping with government’s mandate to accelerate socio-economic transformation.

This is the promise of Ithala, KwaZulu-Natal’s provincial development agency and a strategic enabler of support to people from all walks of life.

The agency has a 58-year legacy of advancing the historically disadvantaged in rural areas and has run initiatives aimed at enterprise development, mentorship and corporate social investment, with a keen focus on youth and women.

South Africa’s unemployment rate stayed at a 14-year high in the second quarter, with the statistics agency saying this week that the country was in a “precarious position” of not creating enough jobs to make a dent in poverty.

According to data from the statistics office, the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 27.7% of the labour force in the second three months of this year, with the absolute number of unemployed down slightly to 6.177 million from 6.214 million.

“As a state-owned entity, we take seriously the call by government to empower the people of the province, more especially during these tough economic times,” said Themba Mathe, Acting Chief Executive of Ithala Development Finance Corporation.

“Our outreach programmes are driven by the need to create impact where it matters the most. Stimulating progress for our people is a core part of our DNA.

“Hence, we are relentless in our efforts to promote transformation and financial inclusion to ensure rural and township economies contribute to the mainstream economy.”

Over the past three years, Ithala has disbursed R878 600 000 to nearly 700 businesses, resulting in over 8 000 jobs being created.

Of these, 28% are women-owned businesses and young people comprise nearly 40% of Ithala’s loan book.

“Entrepreneurial innovation and hard work will save the day. We are here to lend our support to the most innovative and diligent. New entrants to the economic space are counting on us to help reverse the negative trend,” said Mathe.

The sentiments echoed by Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, that local SMMEs needed to grow by 20% per annum in order create at least 800 000 jobs by 2030 in line with the National Development Plan is welcomed by Ithala.

Mathe said a unified approach was required through the formation of strategic public-private partnerships that would serve in the best interests of emerging black enterprises whilst also capacitating them with a view to removing the barriers that preclude them from being successful.

As part of a province-wide initiative to develop township and rural enterprises, a SMME development roadshow coined “My Business Indaba” was held at various venues across KZN.

Ithala’s three flagship programmes - Inkunz’isematholeni Youth in Business Competition, Siyasebenza SMME workshops and Imbokodo Iyazenzela Women in Business - form part of the annual roadshow to gear entrepreneurs towards success.

The Inkunzi Isematholeni Youth in Business Programme, established in 2014, encourages young people to come up with innovative and unique business concepts. The top two winners in Ithala’s Youth in Business Competition walk away with over R450 000 worth of business support for innovative business ideas across various industry sectors. Through an aftercare programme, 20 finalists undergo incubation with Ithala’s strategic partners, Invo Tech and Technology Innovation Agency.

Imbokodo Iyazenzela was launched in 2015 and to date, over 3000 women from mostly KZN rural communities have been reached. The top 20 finalists in the Imbokodo Women in Business Awards are currently receiving further support through a formal business mentorship programme.

“It is hoped that some of these businesses will in time morph into big businesses, if not in size then as part of many small ones that contribute to employment numbers, create new value chains and epitomise the call that small business is big business. Therefore, the role of industrialists cannot be over-emphasised,” added Mathe.

He said as the second biggest landlord in KZN, Ithala fully supported the government’s programme to create black industrialists, thus keeping the wheels of the economy turning.

Government has, in line with its Provincial Growth and Development Plan, identified as critical the need to drive industrialisation in KZN, and affirms that to experience sustained economic growth and to create jobs, industrialisation must become one of the key focus areas.

Several local and surrounding communities across KZN are highly dependent on the existence of purpose-built industrial estates for employment, income and an improved lifestyle. This was revealed by a socio-economic trend assessment of Ithala’s industrial properties and is reinforced by current economic pressures.

Isithebe, Ezakheni and Madadeni Industrial Estates under Ithala’s ownership collectively create over 30 000 jobs affording up to an estimated 300 000 people in regional areas a livelihood.

Operation Vula is a programme through which government aims to implement radical economic transformation in KZN. One of its more pronounced pillars is the Radical Agrarian Socio-Economic Transformation programme which encourages participation in the agriculture value chain.

Over the past year, Ithala has financed a number of empowerment deals totaling more than R65 million which has seen beneficiaries acquiring share equity, a co-operative being established in the transport sector and most recently, a loan facility extended for on-lending to KZN farmers to ease the effects of drought and ensure a sustainable throughput for milling at Gledhow Sugar Company which services close to 3 000 growers.

In the past five years, Ithala has financed over 6300 hectares of agricultural land to historically disadvantaged individuals, many of whom started out as small cane growers. Over the same period, R1.5 billion was advanced to primary agriculture and agri-business.

For more information on Ithala visit www.ithala.co.za or call 031 907 8911.

Ends

Issued by: Ithala Development Finance Corporation 29 Canal Quay Road, Point Waterfront, Durban

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