KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube, has handed over more than R50 million worth of equipment and machinery to 12 emerging entrepreneurs in uMgungundlovu District.

Goods handed over included bakkies, bakery equipment, catering equipment, animal feed and other machinery. It follows a rigorous process undertaken by the department to assist emerging entrepreneurs, who applied for funding through Operation Vula Fund.

Through Operation Vula Fund, the provincial government uses its procurement system to encourage entrepreneurs from historically marginalised communities to seize business opportunities available in various sectors of the economy.

The programme enables cooperatives and Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise Businesses (SMMEs) owned by women, youth and people with disabilities to become preferred suppliers. It also allows them to access funding for skills training and marketing.

Through Operation Vula Fund, a total of R25.6 million has been committed to support 87 existing small enterprises in the clothing and textile sector, and 15 existing small enterprises in toilet paper manufacturing are also being assisted.

Speaking at the handing over ceremony held on Tuesday, Dube-Ncube said that more than R11.7 million has been allocated to support 15 existing small enterprises in bakery and confectionery in the townships and rural areas, and the department wants to ensure that every rural area has these bakeries.

“An amount of R5.4 million has been allocated to support five small enterprises in detergents and chemical cleaning products manufacturing; and another R18.3 million has been allocated for emerging entrepreneurs in various sectors of the economy.”

Dube-Ncube said government is relying on entrepreneurs to help create much needed jobs for millions of people in the townships and rural areas.

“Importantly, when we presented the Budget Vote on 2 June 2020, we pointed out that our programme of action included a focus on the entrepreneurship revolution. We emphasised that government has a responsibility to unshackle millions of people from the bondages of economic oppression.

“Today, we are handing over to you this equipment that will ensure that you are the creators of wealth for the nation,” Dube-Ncube said.

The MEC reiterated that COVID-19 has ignited the department to double its efforts to translate the political freedom “we enjoy into economic freedom for millions of people in this province”.

“… The greatest impact of COVID-19 has been job losses in both informal and formal economies. We have observed that job losses have resulted in spiralling levels of poverty. Many people have been retrenched and condemned to rural villages and peri-urban informal settlements, with no means of survival,” Dube-Ncube said.

KZN Localisation Framework

Meanwhile, the MEC announced that the department is finalising the KZN Localisation Framework to ensure that local people benefit from economic opportunities at local level.

“We are channelling our energies and resources, as the department and our entities, towards building local capacity. We want the people of this province, across all corners, to produce local products for domestic consumption and exports,” Dube-Ncube said.

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