In being the first of its kind, the KZN Youth Fund follows comprehensive research by Youth Directorates of both the Premier’s Office and KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, that identified a huge gap in youth business financial aid. The fund aims to assist deserving young individuals to kick-start their business ventures, fund new creative business concepts and to expand young people’s existing businesses without the restrictions associated with the traditional ways of accessing funding. The youth fund will bridge this gap by expediting the funding process, especially to businesses in rural areas. The fund also received the go ahead from the provincial Cabinet after passing through stringent scrutiny.
Although the cash injection of R50 million was not substantial, it would assist youth in rural areas. It would have ensured the sustainability of new businesses during their critical start-up phase. The Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs has undertaken to ensure that this support for youth entrepreneurs comes from the captains of industry attached to the KZN Growth Coalition, KZN Economic Council and chambers of commerce across the province.
A number of youth-orientated business developments were hampered by a lack of entrepreneurial skills. With this funding, young people will also have access to mentors who will guide them on their journey for two years. The fund was set to also assist franchises owned by the youth as the franchise sectors in many developed countries had been lauded as the most suitable strategy to develop entrepreneurship among the youth, allowing them to learn and grow within a tried and tested environment. The current youth generation has proclaimed their course as the realisation of economic freedom in their lifetime. Being conscious of this call and the reality that the majority of the youth linger in streets with no jobs, to access to business opportunities, the government could not ignore its inherent role of addressing this plight. The fund was aimed at ensuring continuous support for start-up firms.
The government must hasten to make known that the financial assets will remain the property of the KZN government and are only transferable to another youth entity if the initial financed entity fails to continue operating within the first three years.
All applicants must meet the following requirements:
• All applicants must be in the age region of 18 and 35 years old;
• There must be no change of business ownership in the last twelve months from the date you apply for the KZN Youth Empowerment Fund;
• There must be maximum 10% operational costs and 90% capital or asset costs;
• The applicants must have the business ownership in 80% youth owned;
• Young women who own businesses will get an additional advantage;
• All applicants must adhere to priority sectors as articulated in the application form;
• Applications with innovation and sound franchise deals are encouraged;
• It is also a requirement to provide local content; and
• Township and rural operations are preferable.
Contact DTC for more information on funding through the KZN Youth Fund.