The Umsobomvu Youth Fund (UYF) says it has financed over 1 200 young South African entrepreneurs, through enterprise funding, to the tune of R100 million over a period of 15 months.
Enterprise funding is directed at UYF's target market of those between the ages of 18 and 35 years, who were previously disadvantaged and want to set up small to medium-sized enterprises.
It forms part of one of the UYF's major programmes, Youth Entrepreneurship, which aims to increase the number of entrepreneurs and address unemployment amongst the youth.
Youth Entrepreneurship also facilitates economic participation by helping young people access sustainable business opportunities through funding and business development services.
UYF's CEO Malose Kekana says the success has exceeded what many of their funding counterparts have not achieved in five years as 90 percent of the 1 200 recipients were unable to provide collateral which would have made them ineligible for bank loans.
"Because job creation and entrepreneurship are two crucial elements of Umsobomvu's mandate, we focus on the strength of the applicants' business ideas. If we think they are viable then we consider funding them," he added.
He expressed confidence that the chosen programme models and partnerships with the private sector, government and other stakeholders would play a significant role in tackling unemployment in South Africa.
Enterprise funding comprises five funds: the Umsobomvu Business Partners Franchise Fund, the FNB Momentum-UYF Progress Fund and the General Equity Fund.
The other two funds, Nicro Enterprise Finance and the Nations Trust Youth Enterprise Fund, are micro-finance initiatives.
UYF has also signed agreements with the Ithala Development Finance Corporation and the Eastern Cape Development Corporation to boost entrepreneurial opportunities and skills development in Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Eastern Cape.
"We are well into negotiations with two other provinces, Free State and Limpopo, to sign similar agreements," said Mr Kekana.
The Umsobomvu Youth Fund is a government supported organisation which was established in 2001 to create a platform for job creation and skills development for the South African youth.
From the once-off amount of R1-billion generated by government the UYF has already committed approximately R500-million to 90 projects countrywide over the past 36 months.
An estimated 700 SMMEs and 3 640 micro-enterprises will benefit from the Youth Entrepreneurship's funding and development projects and 17 000 are expected to be created in the next two years.