It has been said that life is not a matter of milestones but of moments. But the National Empowerment Fund cannot be faulted for celebrating reaching the R1billion mark in their pursuit of "the empowerment dividend".
Last week's R19million funding of a BEE consortium led by East London Industrial Development Zone chairman Zolile Tini to acquire 50percent of advertising company Set Squared, may have seemed insignificant. But it took the total funds disbursed by the NEF since its formation in 2004 to R1,3billion.
Frencel Gillion, chief investment officer of the NEF, said the approval of R1,3billion in BEE transactions was an achievement in the fund's commitment to grow broad based black economic empowerment.
"This important accomplishment further demonstrates the NEF's commitment to contributing meaningfully to black economic participation and indirectly to (the government's Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative South Africa) initiatives," said Gillion.
He said the fund prioritised investments in key sectors such as transportation, tourism and entertainment, ICT and media, food and agri-processing, construction and textiles, as directed by the Department of Trade and Industry.
The NEF, an agency of the Department of Trade and Industry, has to date approved a total of 167 transactions, 74percent of which are deals below R5million, and 26percent in deals above that amount.
The NEF was capitalised by government in 2004 through the transfer of equity stakes in parastatals and an additional R2billion to be drawn down over a five-year period up to this year.
Gillion said the fund would "maximise its efforts" over the next few months to ensure increased financing of SMEs, BEE transformation and rural development projects.