Biz booms thanks to fund

Up to R5 million in funding is available to KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) business owners who partner with each other to grow the local economy.

The Gijima KZN Local Competitiveness Fund (LCF), run by the province’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism since 2011, aims to promote economic development and increase local competitiveness by encouraging businesses to partner.

The fund covers partnerships between legally registered enterprises, co-operatives or trusts. A partnership may consist of two or more of any of these entities.

To qualify, partnerships must demonstrate that they can implement projects, promote and grow targeted sectors.

The targeted sectors include: agro-processing; clothing, textile, leather and footwear; wood and wood products; automotive and components industry; chemical industry; tourism; arts, crafts, cultural and creative industries; and green economy initiatives. Funding ranges from R1 million to R5 million.

Gijima funds 70% of the total direct costs of a project. The balance of the projected cost (30%) must be financed by either the applicant’s or partners’ own resources, or from other sources.

Since 2011, nine partnerships have benefited from funding worth R37.1 million.

Partnership members need not all be located within the KZN province, however only those whose primary location is within the KwaZulu-Natal will be able to benefit from support under the fund.

Business partners Sekusile Consulting Services and cut-flower grower company Bethany Farm secured R5 million under Gijima. The funding was required to move the business off a private farm and into a public space to make it accessible.

Rose Juby, one of the directors of the company, says the funding enabled the business to move from the level of a cottage industry into a fully-fledged commercial enterprise. Juby encourages business owners to apply for funding under the fund, but cautions that public sector processes are time-consuming and can be onerous when compared with private-sector practices.

Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Local Competitiveness Fund, , Rose Juby

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