The R9-billion Jobs Fund, established by the South African government to generate sustainable employment among previously disadvantaged South Africans, youth and women, recently published its list of partner projects for 2019.
Four of these partnerships highlight the fund’s efforts to support the growth of township and rural economies relevant to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), a statement on Friday said.
Jobs Fund head Najwah Allie-Edries said the fund “firmly believes that supporting and strengthening economic activity in townships holds the potential to vastly improve the livelihoods of people living in these areas”.
She added that these should be central to South Africa’s growth and broad economic empowerment strategy.
Therefore, the Jobs Fund is extending its existing partnership with A2L Media, trading as A2Pay. The company provides end-to-end technology solutions to informal market traders, and some of these include point of sale and stock management portals, as well as a vending platform for virtual prepaid products.
The multi-year partnership began in 2012.
“Our experience with A2Pay on previous projects highlighted the extent of the competitiveness and sustainability challenges faced by township retail enterprises,” Allie-Edries commented.
In response, the Jobs Fund’s 2019 partnership with A2Pay aims to “address a broader range of inter-connected factors impacting the competitiveness and sustainability of township retail ecosystems by, specifically addressing business training, infrastructure and technology development, and diversifying revenue streams”.
The 2019 A2Pay partnership will deploy a Jobs Fund grant of R161-million, mobilising, through the fund’s minimum 1:1 matched funding criteria, an additional R232-million via A2Pay’s private sector partners.
The leveraged grant will allow A2Pay to provide point of sale hardware, business development support, access to a virtual products retail platform, and access to bulk stock purchasing and last mile delivery services to 4 400 township businesses across South Africa.
The partnership will also provide full-time employment to nearly 6 000 skilled and semiskilled workers, 74 of whom will work as internal A2Pay technicians, installers and business coaches.
The Jobs Fund is also partnering with the Phakamani Foundation again, thereby extending and upscaling an already successful micro-lending partnership currently building rural woman-owned and -operated businesses in KwaZulu-Natal.
The 2019 partnership will increase access to funding for microenterprises in rural and peri-urban communities in the Eastern Cape, creating micro jobs for marginalised women.
According to Allie-Edries, the approach uses a Grameen Bank model combining community development and micro credit, offering small loans to women to pursue economic activities and escape poverty.
The model supports beneficiaries to set up and run small businesses, generating income for household needs - and also loan repayments, which are recycled to assist other entrepreneurs.
The Jobs Fund’s 2019 partnership with Phakamani will leverage R35-million to equally match the Jobs Fund grant, capacitating over 13 000 women with the finance, training and support to operate their own micro-businesses on a sustainable basis.
This new partnership will also create an additional 2 000 permanent jobs.
As a first-time partnership, the Jobs Fund will partner with the SaveAct Trust, which will double an R11-million grant through contributions from SaveAct partners, including Misereor, the Industrial Development Corporation and others.
The partnership will train and support women in rural KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Free State and the Northern Cape, “leverage their stokvel savings to establish farming enterprises,” Allie-Edries explained.
The SaveAct Trust partnership is developing a digital ecosystem assisting stokvel members manage, monitor and effectively deploy their savings. Financial education will also be provided to 10 000 stokvel members.
A second first-time partnership with SmartStart Early Learning, will deploy a R74-million Jobs Fund grant to leverage a combined pool of R164-million, which will recruit and support women and youth in the running of early childhood development microenterprises.
The partnership will be a powerful catalyst for change in South Africa’s early childhood development ecosystem by including the provision of operating licences and material to support the establishment of early childhood development sites.
It is anticipated that over the next three years the Jobs Fund’s partnership with SmartStart Early Learning will establish 3 500 microenterprises, over 3 500 permanent jobs and 25 short-term jobs.
Additionally, ten beneficiaries will be permanently placed with project partners and an additional 7 500 beneficiaries trained in the SmartStart model.
According to Allie-Edries, these four critical partnerships demonstrate that by adopting an ecosystem support framework, “[The country] can leverage better opportunities for South Africa’s marginalised communities – successfully unlocking new economic growth and driving much wider economic inclusion”.Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online