The young and small entrepreneurs from the four major and largely rural regions of the Eastern Cape hailed the Eastern Cape Isiqalo Youth (EC Isiqalo Youth Fund) and Local and Regional Economic Development Funds workshops as vital and eye-opening engagements.
They called on the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT), a department responsible for driving both programmes to expand the engagements reach, increase their frequency and sustain them over time.
Speaking during the Alfred Nzo and OR Tambo leg of the workshops which took place in Mount Frere on the 25 November 2019, Ms Nandipha Sodwele from Nalandumbinda Projects said she received a lot of new information and got exposed to the finer details of the funding schemes which will help to put together a more fitting application.
Ms Sodwele is trading in maize milling in Bizana. Her sentiments were echoed by another young entrepreneur, Mr Yanga Mtyite from Inyanzi Trading who said there is value and meaning in the session and ‘it is motivating to us that our government is demonstrating this level of willingness to engage us as young and rural entrepreneurs on the programmes designed to support to grow our businesses.
Meanwhile Mr Ncedo Khunyana said that before the session he was angry at government as he and other young people felt deserted and ‘now this session has capacitated and revived me, and I am more positive about our future as young people’.
Mr Mtyite is trading in branding and Mr Khunyana has a general dealer focusing on events, entertainment, manufacturing gates, car wash and aluminium among others.
Similarly, the entrepreneurs from Joe Gqabi and Chris Hani welcomed the session as an important and helpful exercise.
They urged the department to conduct more of these but also called for a relook of the LRED policy, a request that DEDEAT officials promised to relay to the department.
It is however encouraging that once the process was explained in detail including the application forms for both LRED and Isiqalo fund, there was a greater appreciation of what is required, why and how people can go about completing the forms correctly and increase the chances of acquiring the funding.
Some of the young people who spoke from the two regions include Mr Anele Hala from Chris Hani District Municipality, a property developer;
Mr Siyabulela Qoloma and Ms Olwethu Yambeso from Ngcobo who appealed to the department to continue visiting small towns and villages. This leg took place in Aliwal North on the 26 November 2019.
These sessions are aimed at helping to provide guidance to potential applicants and clarity on the mandatory requirements for DEDEAT’s Isiqalo and LRED funding and non-financial support services available.
In her opening comments for both sessions, Ms Boniswa Koneti who is the Director: LRED at DEDEAT said the major and common challenges the department has had to contend with in processing and evaluating applications include noncompliance with the policy and other government prescripts requirements, incomplete forms and supportive documents among others.
Even though the policies and application forms for both funding schemes were explained and discussed in detail, Ms Koneti urged the entrepreneurs to take time and engage the policy and funding guidelines and visit the department’s regional offices in time to receive proper guidance from Trade Advisor.
“Such will help you to complete the application from correctly, supply all the required information and supporting documents which will in turn put you in a better position to apply successfully” said Ms Koneti.
Isiqalo is part of government efforts to grow the economy of the province, tackle unemployment and poverty particularly among young people, a group with significantly high unemployment rate compared to the total labour force.
It is part of the R1.1 billion set aside (Provincial Economic Stimulus Fund) over the MTEF to stimulate the provincial economy with R339.4 million allocated in 2019/20.
Meanwhile LRED Fund was established to promote and administer sustainable economic development and employment creation by supporting Eastern Cape based enterprises that aim to stimulate economic growth of the Province.
It is vital to the province’s economic development which aims to support SMMEs and cooperatives that have innovative ideas and well-thought-out plans for creating new economic opportunities that enable job creation.
These workshop form part of the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), a week where many countries take time to celebrate innovators and job creators who bring ideas to life and improve human welfare.
The department will continue engaging various entrepreneurs on these and many other programmes with special focus on rural regions and towns. In this programme the department will make efforts to invite and work with strategic partners such as provincial and national economic cluster departments, development agencies, municipalities and community developers where possible.
Guided by a vision of an Eastern Cape where economic growth and sound environmental management underpin sustainable development, DEDEAT’s mandate is to lead economic development and environmental management in the province.
The policies, application criteria and application forms for these funding facilities can be accessed in all departmental regional offices and online platforms. Potential applicants can visit DEDEAT website and social media platforms: