Small businesses and cooperatives are set to receive a major shot in the arm when the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government rolls out over R300 million funding to projects run by Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) across the province.
The amount, which is part of Operation Vula Fund District, will target the furniture, detergents, bakery, clothing and textile, and farming sectors, among others.
Operation Vula Fund is part of the provincial government’s radical economic transformation projects, which seek to increase the number of entrepreneurs from underprivileged communities, so that they can participate in the mainstream economy.
“Operation Vula Fund is a key cog in government’s Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan, as articulated in the State of the Province Address in February,” KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala said.
During a Provincial Executive Council meeting chaired by Zikalala, the council heard that the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs received a total of 4 229 applications.
“So far, a total of 1 018 applications, with a monetary value of R296 808 786.06, have been approved to date,” Zikalala said.
The Premier is expected to unveil more details on the programme in the coming weeks and handover support to beneficiaries.
Youth Development Strategy approved
Meanwhile, the provincial council has approved the KZN Youth Development Strategy, which aims to attend to the plight of unemployed graduates, support youth entrepreneurship, and the coordination of youth development interventions for impact.
The council said it views the strategy as an important step in addressing the plight of many young people, who constitute the majority of the KwaZulu-Natal population.
“Young people are the hardest hit by unemployment and there is recognition that many young people support and require assistance in various small business ventures, and incubator programmes with industry, education and skilling.
“The Youth Development Strategy provides concrete steps for young people to drive initiatives that are committed to changing lives.
“The Provincial Integrated Youth Development Strategy (PIYDS) is a road map for engaging the youth of the province to take their rightful place in the strategic developmental initiatives, which seek to transform the province into a prosperous one,” the Premier said.
The strategy targets unemployed youth, young women, youth with disabilities, school-aged out-of-school youth, youth in rural areas, youth at risk, youth headed households, youth in conflict with the law, and youth characterised by substance abuse.
The Strategic Framework is organised around five pillars and each pillar has programmes/interventions that are relevant to the specific outcome.
The five pillars include:
- Quality education, skills and second chances;
- Economic transformation, entrepreneurship and job creation;
- Physical and mental health promotion, including other pandemics;
- Social cohesion and nation building; and
- Effective and responsive youth development machinery.
“The provincial government hopes to use the approved youth strategy to fight unemployment, poverty and other social ills ravaging society and young people in particular,” Zikalala said.
KwaZulu-Natal will host National Youth Day at Harry Gwala Stadium in Umsunduzi Local Municipality on 16 June 2021. President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver the keynote address at the event.
This year’s event will be held under the theme ‘The Year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke: Growing youth employment for an inclusive and transformed society’.