Sunday World - - Front Page - BOI­TUMELO TLHOAELE

TRADE and In­dus­try Min­is­ter Rob Davies is re­view­ing a re­port from the National Em­pow­er­ment fund (NEF) on the grant­ing of a R34-mil­lion loan to me­dia mogul Khanyi Dhlomo’s Ndalo Lux­ury Ven­tures (NLV) to open a high-end Lu­mi­nance store in Hyde Park.

The NEF has since run out of funds for fur­ther loans.

Sid­well Medupe, spokesman for the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try, has con­firmed that Davies has re­ceived the re­port and “is con­sid­er­ing it”.

He said the min­is­ter would re­spond only af­ter re­view­ing the re­port.

Both Dhlomo and NEF chief ex­ec­u­tive Philisiwe Mthethwa have de­fended the loan, say­ing it was within the NEF’s man­date.

“The NEF sup­ports NLV pri­mar­ily be­cause it is a move to­wards trans­form­ing a sec­tor which has re­mained un­bal­anced in terms of race and own­er­ship in man­age­ment,” said Mthethwa in her ad­dress at the launch.

In a let­ter ad­dressed to Sun­day World, Dhlomo says the NLV con­trib­uted R15-mil­lion to­wards the ven­ture. Dhlomo and her mother, Vene­tia, are ma­jor­ity share­hold­ers, while med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner and busi­ness­woman Judy Dlamini is a di­rec­tor and in­vestor in the busi­ness. (See Page 11)

“The NEF fund­ing for NLV is nei­ther a gift nor a grant. It’s a loan to be paid up with in­ter­est within the time frame stip­u­lated by the NEF,” says Dhlomo.

Davies had called for a re­port from the NEF to es­tab­lish whether the fund­ing was within the fund’s man­date.

His call was sup­ported by the South­ern African Cloth­ing & Tex­tile Work­ers ’ Union which de­scribed the loan as “in­ap­pro­pri­ate ”.

NEF spokesman Moemise Mot­sepe told Sun­day World: “The man­date of the NEF is to grow black en­trepreneurs.

“We don’t place a sell-by date on black suc­cess. We’ll fund small and medium en­ter­prises.”

Asked whether the NEF has funded Dhlomo or Ndalo, Mot­sepe said: “No, this is a start-up busi­ness. We ’ ve never funded Ndalo Lux­ury Ven­tures be­fore.

“We ’ ve funded Power FM, where she’s an 8% mi­nor­ity share­holder. There ’ s no eth­i­cal trans­gres­sion in what we’ve funded.”

Sun­day World has re­ceived sev­eral com­plaints from en­trepreneurs who had been turned down for loans by the NEF.

Among them is Lino Makana (29) who, with her hus­band and busi­ness part­ner, Qaiks, ap­plied for fund­ing from the NEF last year.

“We were ex­cited about it, but they shat­tered me. I was very sad, but it’s life; we have to move on,” she said this week.

The cou­ple from Mey­ers­dal, south of Joburg, were seek­ing fund­ing to sup­port their so­lar en­ergy en­ter­prise, but were de­clined de­spite re­vis­ing their ap­pli­ca­tion to in­clude rec­om­men­da­tions and let­ters of sup­port from po­ten­tial clients.

“Af­ter read­ing the (NLV) story, this has had a neg­a­tive im­pact on us,” said Lino.

“We ’ d like to know why a per­son who ’ s al­ready a mil­lion­aire needs to get ex­tra mil­lions.”

The Makana cou­ple say they sub­mit­ted their busi­ness pro­posal last Au­gust – around the same time Dhlomo’s loan was ap­proved – and were told in Septem­ber to amend it be­cause it didn’t meet all the re­quire­ments.

“We re­sub­mit­ted it based on those re­quire­ments, but they came back and said we needed other things which they didn’t want be­fore,” said Qaiks.

The cou­ple, who say their busi­ness would have also em­ployed 50 peo­ple, said they needed a cash in­jec­tion of R4.8-mil­lion.

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