Isivande fund will open new doors for businesswomen

Xolile Bhengu

Xolile Bhengu

Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka endorsed the new R100million Isivande Women's Fund launched yesterday by the department of trade and industry in partnership with Old Mutual.

The fund will finance two-year-old businesses in peri-urban and rural areas that have a 60percent female ownership and 75percent black representation.

The enterprises will be able to access loans ranging from R30000 to R2million from the fund, which will specialise in debt financing.

The loans will have a maximum five-year repayment period.

Mlambo-Ngcuka congratulated the department on its foresight in establishing the fund and choosing Old Mutual as its partner.

She said Old Mutual was a corporate company that took the lead in economic transformation and had committed more than R300million to the economic upliftment of women in rural and peri-urban areas.

"The fund is here to stay. It is for women, and the government looks forward to ensuring that women's empowerment and poverty is addressed."

The establishment of the fund followed a study commissioned by the department's gender and women's economic empowerment unit, which found capital financing was the main inhibitor of growth by female-owned businesses.

The department said surveys from the government communication and information system, Finscope and Labour Force said black women's use of the financial services sector was dominated by informal savings, funeral and burial schemes, with very little or very expensive credit reaching their enterprises.

The managing director of Old Mutual SA, Paul Hanratty, said the initiative aimed to narrow the gap between the first and second economies.

"We are investing in the success of micro and small female-owned enterprises.

"Small businesses are the engines of real economic growth," said Hanratty.

"If they grow, job creation takes place, and when jobs are created, poverty diminishes,"