Fund a woman, fund a na­tion

CityPress - - Voices & Careers - CITY­PRESS, 13 AU­GUST, 2017

‘While man­u­fac­tur­ing re­mains im­por­tant for a grow­ing and de­vel­op­ing econ­omy, I be­lieve equal en­ergy must be in­vested in the ser­vices sec­tor,” said Na­tional Em­pow­er­ment Fund (NEF) CEO Philisiwe Mthethwa at Sun City this week when the African Women Char­tered Ac­coun­tants cel­e­brated its 15th an­niver­sary on the day af­ter Women’s Day.

“As the lead­ing sec­tor, ser­vices ac­count for 57% of In­dia’s econ­omy and have been in­stru­men­tal in cat­a­pult­ing the country’s growth as the sixth largest in the world mea­sured by nom­i­nal GDP and the third largest by pur­chas­ing power par­ity,” she said, adding: “Even though the NEF also en­cour­ages black en­try and par­tic­i­pa­tion in the pro­duc­tive econ­omy, we be­lieve this must not be at the ex­pense of growth and in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in ser­vices, which could play a vi­tal role in grow­ing the econ­omy, cre­at­ing jobs, re­duc­ing poverty and in­equal­ity, and driv­ing the eco­nomic par­tic­i­pa­tion of black women.”

Since op­er­a­tional in­cep­tion in 2005, the NEF has ap­proved more than R8.6 mil­lion for 852 black en­ter­prises coun­try­wide, sup­port­ing in ex­cess of 90 000 jobs.

Three years ago, the devel­op­ment fi­nancier es­tab­lished the Women Em­pow­er­ment Fund, which has been in­stru­men­tal in fa­cil­i­tat­ing ap­proval of R3.2 bil­lion for busi­nesses that are owned and man­aged by black women.

She said the NEF’s funding thresh­old is up to R75 mil­lion per trans­ac­tion; how­ever, NEF sup­port has been able to un­lock third-party funding in or­der to en­able fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies and the roll­out of in­dus­trial projects. “Th­ese are cap­i­tal-in­ten­sive projects that have the po­ten­tial to en­able en­try into min­er­als ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion, in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment, re­new­able en­ergy, agro­pro­cess­ing, busi­ness process out­sourc­ing, in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy and tourism, among oth­ers.”

Encouraging black women en­trepreneurs to ap­proach the NEF, In­dus­trial Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, the Public In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion and the de­part­ment of trade and in­dus­try for in­dus­trial funding un­der the Black In­dus­tri­al­ist Pro­gramme, she said the con­cept of black in­dus­tri­al­ists refers to black peo­ple di­rectly in­volved in the orig­i­na­tion, cre­ation, sig­nif­i­cant own­er­ship, man­age­ment and op­er­a­tion of in­dus­trial en­ter­prises that de­rive value from the man­u­fac­tur­ing of goods and ser­vices at a large scale; act­ing to un­lock the pro­duc­tive po­ten­tial of our country’s cap­i­tal as­sets for mas­sive em­ploy­ment, lo­cally.

Govern­ment re­search has re­vealed that about 45% of ac­tive busi­nesses in South Africa are owned and man­aged by women. The fig­ure, how­ever, is skewed to­wards the in­for­mal sec­tor, where 52% of busi­ness own­ers were found to be fe­male-owned, com­pared with 31% in the for­mal sec­tor.

“I can bear tes­ti­mony to the fact that our best in­vestees are women en­trepreneurs. We can at­test to the fact that to fund a woman is to fund a na­tion. This is so be­cause women en­trepreneurs are more likely to suc­ceed in busi­ness be­cause they are fo­cused, driven and dis­ci­plined. They ser­vice their loans with far greater dili­gence, and have been known to do so in record time,” said Mthethwa.

PHOTO: KEVIN RUDHAM

From RDP hous­ing to in­no­va­tive con­crete trans­porta­tion, the NEF has funded a range of woman-owned busi­ness break­ing new ground in the con­struc­tion in­dus­try

SIZE­ABLE PROJECTS

Philisiwe Mthethwa, CEO of the Na­tional Em­pow­er­ment Fund

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