DURBAN - More than R47,25 million has been spent on small businesses and contractors in the past year during the redevelopment of Ithala Finance Development Corporation’s (IDFC) oldest retail and office centres in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

According to the IDFC, the facelift of the Ulundi, Nongoma and Eshowe shopping centres started in October 2017 and is expected to be finalised in October this year. With work on the overall project at around 70% complete on all sites, there is already a marked improvement.

IDFC’s board members recently undertook a visit to the three centres to witness for themselves the progress being made and to get an understanding of the environment in which the organisation operates.

“We are impressed with the progress being made and commend Ithala for taking the initiative to show us their projects. The knowledge and understanding that we gain each time helps us when we receive reports and deliberate and decide on recommendations being made,” said IDFC board member Precious Sibiya.

The IDFC manages fully-integrated business activities that provide a range of financial and property services throughout KwaZulu-Natal.

The refurbishment of the centres was broken into smaller projects to allow for a wider spread of support for small businesses. Projects, which vary from electrical and plumbing to re-roofing, painting and fencing, have been undertaken by 12 businesses, mostly small black-owned businesses based in Zululand, creating employment for 302 people the IDFC said. 

"SMME and co-operative development is core to IDFC’s mandate and we have used the refurbishment of our centres to promote and support local small businesses," said Themba Mathe, acting group chief executive at Ithala.

"This is just the start of our intention to revitalise and recapitalise our property portfolio and to encourage public-private partnerships in developing new infrastructure in KZN. We have set an investment target of R850 million by 2021," he added.

- African News Agency (ANA)