The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have joined forces to boost women entrepreneurship by improving access to business funding for women.
The IDC and the DTI said in a statement they have established closer collaboration in the administering of their women focused funds, the IDC’s R300 million Women Entrepreneurial Fund (WEF) and the DTI’s R45-million Isivande Women Fund (IWF).
The initiative comes as South Africa looks to fuel the development of entrepreneurs to drive economic development and job creation through the SME sector.
The DTI/IDC statement said the collaboration is the first time the entities have worked together to actively promote these funds to both women already in business and women wanting to start their own business.
Meryl Mamathuba, head of the IDC’s development funds department, said female entrepreneurs’ lack of awareness of available funding is a major barrier to their success.
“By bringing this awareness to the market we intend to encourage greater participation by women in the economy,” she says.
Mamathuba said women entrepreneurs must to familiarise themselves with the conditions of two funds, available on IDC and IWF sites, to avoid frustration.
Polo Radebe, chief executive of Identity Development Fund, says women entrepreneurs prefer to be engaged directly.
“The business model that IDF Managers uses to service this market is modelled precisely to address the needs of women entrepreneurs,” says Radebe.
Based on the success of this first round, Mamathuba says, the programme will be considered for the rest of the country and will become a more regular event.
To apply, entrepreneurs must first submit one-page business proposals online at www.idc.co.za/wef and www.idf.co.za/iwf by 15 October 2012. After receiving feedback, they will then have to submit full business plans. WEF and IWF fund managers will consider the plans and have one-on-one meetings with applicants to discuss their funding needs.