KWAZULU-NATAL Premier Sihle Zikalala says the time has come for the province to produce goods in the townships and villages of the province for itself, and the rest of the world.
The Premier was speaking at the launch of a massive rollout of R300 million Operation Vula Fund disbursements, held in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday.
The programme forms part of the province’s efforts to create jobs and grow the economy.
During the launch, Zikalala handed over various equipment and business instruments worth over R300 million to successful beneficiaries of Operation Vula Fund.
These included catering equipment, vehicles, computers, and farming implements.
Over the next few weeks, the Premier and members of the provincial executive council (MECs) will visit various districts to handover equipment and business instruments to enterprises who had successfully applied for Operation Vula Fund support.
Zikalala said equipment with a combined value of R300 million will be disbursed to over 1 000 small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) who have been selected as successful applicants.
“To date we have approved a total 1 021 applications with a value of R299 157 million. Of these successful applications, 923 were in Tier One which disbursed equipment and instruments not exceeding R200 000.
“In Tier Two there were 11 successful applications where equipment disbursed ranges between R200 000 and R500 000. There were 87 successful applicants in Tier 3 which disbursed instruments whose value ranges from R500 000 up to R2 million,” Zikalala said.
The Premier added that the disbursements of Operation Vula Fund equipment will serve as a major boost to the province’s job creation and economic recovery efforts.
Zikalala said the projection was that the Operation Vula Fund disbursements will help create and sustain no less than 10 816 jobs.
He noted that, of the successful applicants, at least 42% are businesses owned by young people under the age or 35, while 49.5% are women-owned.
The Premier also warned that beneficiaries are not allowed to sell the equipment, noting that in the event that a business collapses, the equipment will have to be returned to the government.
SMMEs play critical role in job creation
Sharing the Premier’s sentiments, Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC Ravi Pillay said SMMEs have a critical role to play in the creation of jobs.
“In developed countries, up to 80% of the jobs are created by SMMES. This task that the beneficiaries have, is a critical one for the future of our province and our country,” Pillay said.
Pillay also stressed that his department will monitor progress and offer support to the beneficiaries.
“As a department we want to come and visit you to see how you are doing. Firstly, we will want to see that the machinery is there and is being used for the purpose for which it was requested.
“Secondly we want to see how you are developing to become a successful enterprise. We will look at the operational side, the financial management side and also access to markets,” Pillay said.
Zikalala and Pillay said that unsuccessful applicants will be contacted, and will be assisted with improving on areas that led to their applications being unsuccessful.