The KwaZulu-Natal province has witnessed a good hand down from its premier Sihle Zikalala as he awarded 55 youth entrepreneurs with funding to the value of 71 million rands under the province’s Youth Business Development Fund.

The Premier’s Office said that the Youth Business Development Fund had received a total of 2246 applications for funding; this amount was whittled down to 448. The 448 individuals were then shortlisted and ultimately, 55 received funding. The office further revealed that they looked at five key elements of the grants handed over to 55 young entrepreneurs from KZN in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

The key elements are include

* None of the 71,4 million rands will go directly to any of the recipients accounts. Instead, the money will go to equipment and instruments that will enable them to run their enterprises better and more productively.

* Zikalala said the applicants who had not succeeded despite showing potential would be placed in a business development programme, where their shortcomings would be identified and addressed to ensure that they benefit in future.

* Zikalala said that 70 million rands of the total funding was through the provincial government’s engagement with banking institute ABSA, who allocated the KZN government with a R70 million loan “dedicated to further support youth-owned enterprises that may require more funds than what government has allocated from the seed funding”.

* Zikalala announced that the fund will support a variety of economic sectors in all the province’s district municipalities. He said “The sectors include agriculture, manufacturing, mining, construction, transport and logistics, catering, tourism, hospitality, recycling, the creative arts, communications, and entertainment,”

* With both national and provincial government having a keen interest in the ocean’s economy and with programmes such as Operation Phakisa, Zikalala said that it was a concern that there had been no applications focusing on the ocean economy while there were “very few” on technological development.

While encouraging the youths, the premier said “We call on the youth to explore and be innovative so that their economic participation will diversify to all sectors. We wish to see many more proposals that will take advantage of our unique location as a coastal province. He added that “From them, we wish to also get more young people in the oceans economy including arenas like boat or ship-building and aquaculture.”