03/12/2012 Edwin Lehoahoa assessment team Leader with some of the Job's Fund successful applicants of Harambee in JHB CBD. (091) Photo: Leon Nicholas

Wiseman Khuzwayo

The R9 billion Jobs Fund announced its third call for submissions for enterprise and infrastructure development grants yesterday.

About 18 months since it was established, the fund has approved 54 projects to which it had allocated R3bn, with matching funding of R3.7bn from applicant organisations.

Dumisa Hlatshwayo, the fund’s chief investment officer, said that of the 54 projects, 27 had been contracted, with grant funding of R1.167bn and matched funding of R1.033bn.

It was projected that the 27 contracted projects would create 65 121 new permanent jobs in the economy by 2015 and place 42 000 unemployed people in existing vacancies over their three-year funding terms.

Frans Baleni, the chairman of the fund’s investment committee and the general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers, said prospective applicants had until March 15 to apply for funding for innovative projects.

The fund works on a matching funding basis to provide enterprise and infrastructure development support for private, non-governmental and public organisations whose projects will create permanent jobs, support job seekers and build institutional capacity.

The fund said as soon as the contracting had been finalised with the balance of the projects approved, it would report on the additional projected jobs.

The fund was launched in June 2011 by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan with R9bn from the government following an announcement by President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation Address that year.

The fund provides once-off limited grants that are awarded on a competitive basis.

Unlike other government funding agencies, it will not seek repayment or a financial return on its investments, but will retain the right to reclaim funds that are not spent or are misappropriated. It is managed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa.

The Jobs Fund is not meant to help small entrepreneurs because the government has established many different institutions and funding instruments to assist small businesses.

Brian Whittaker, the deputy chairman, said: “Through the fund, the government is trying to do something extraordinary by putting public money behind private initiatives… We want innovative ideas that combine profit with social investment.”

One of the projects that receives funding is the Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, which identifies unemployed young people from disadvantaged backgrounds with high potential, and places them in sustainable and permanent formal sector employment.

Tamera Campbell, the managing director of Harambee, said the Jobs Fund provided R120m, while Yellowwoods Social Investments and participating employer fees matched the fund’s grant. She said since August 2011, Harambee had placed more than 745 candidates in permanent employment.