Nompumelelo Magwaza

For the next eight weeks, individuals, businesses and NGOs would be afforded an opportunity to submit proposals for job creation and get a slice of R1.5 billion in government funding, Jobs Fund chief investment officer Dumisani Hlatshwayo said at the weekend.

He said the fund would provide grants, not loans.

The fund was announced by President Jacob Zuma last year as a response to the high unemployment rate in the country. It was launched by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in June, with an allocation of R9bn.

“We have learnt valuable lessons during the first call for proposals. In anticipation of the second call for proposals, the fund has put in place sufficient systems and made significant inroads in our efforts to cultivate quality applications that will lead to the creation of sustainable jobs,” he said.

In the first call for proposals the fund encountered challenges with the manual applications, communication and the eligibility of applications. Despite this, Hlatshwayo said, all applications received feedback.

The fund has approved R3.3bn towards job creation.

The first call attracted 2 651 applications of which 1 641 were not eligible. The applications were subjected to an appraisal process followed by quality assurance reviews to validate the outcome of the applications. In the end only 26 projects were approved.

Gauteng received the highest number of applications with 1 040 proposals, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 365. North West and Northern Cape received less than 50 each.

Hlatshwayo said the proposals that were rejected showed little innovation and did not link funding to job creation. In many cases the applicants did not have co-funding and they had a minimal knowledge of project finance.

In the first round, 40 percent of the fund was spent on job seekers, 32 percent was allocated for enterprise development and 28 percent was put aside for institutional capacity building.

To improve the application process in the second round, the fund has launched a new website as well as an automated process for applications. It has also established provincial offices.

Rejected proposals in the first round may be restructured for a re-application.

Hlatshwayo said he hoped the second round “would be of quality” standard.

“We have learnt, and improved, from the challenges encountered during the first round of proposals. We admit that there was a lack of knowledge and information on the work of the fund in the public domain, general misunderstanding of the criteria for selection as well as of our mandate.”

He said the fund had resolved all of these by putting together a comprehensive consultative process and systems.

The invitation calls for projects in government departments, public entities, business enterprises and NGOs.

The fund, which is administered by the Development Bank of Southern Africa, has set a target to create at least 150 000 sustainable jobs.