19 February 2008
The Department of Trade and Industry and financial services group Old Mutual have launched the Isivande Women’s Fund, with the aim of providing small, women-owned businesses with more affordable, usable and responsive financial solutions.
The fund, which targets black women in small businesses as well as female entrepreneurs who are running their own enterprises, will specialise in debt financing, offering loans ranging from R30 000 to R2-million.
Qualifying companies will be 60% female-owned and have at least a two-year track record of business activity and a sustainable business plan.
Speaking at the launch on Monday, Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa said that while women-owned enterprises were contributing an increasing share to national revenue, women remained under-represented in formal sector enterprises and over-represented in micro enterprises and the informal sector.
“Approximately 70% of informal businesses in South Africa are owned or controlled by women, and while women have better credit repayment records than men, they find it harder to raise finance then men,” Mpahlwa said.
The latest statistics showed that South African women were taking the lead as entrepreneurs, he said, adding it was a “most positive development that we find the private sector beginning to address this challenge in more creative ways.”
Women would continue to be recipients of government efforts to broaden their participation in the economy, Mpahlwa said, as their empowerment was seen as a realistic way of reducing poverty and halving unemployment in the country over the next decade.
Old Mutual MD Bob Head said the company was offering financial support to women as they made excellent entrepreneurs and often understood people’s needs better than men.
“For South African women, it’s a wonderful opportunity they must use. The country needs them, as they shape our vision and passion,” Head said.