A large number of women in South Africa have been at the lowest end of any form of business opportunity, or have been totally excluded. For that reason they are many organisations that now focus on providing financial support specifically to South African woman. Some of these funds for women’s business in South Africa are described below.

Enablis Acceleration Fund

The Enablis Acceleration Fund is one of the many organisations that fund for women’s business in South Africa. This organisation is a partnership between Enablis Financial Corporation SA (Pty) Ltd and Khula Enterprise Finance Limited. The company is currently capitalised at R50m. Its purpose is to improve access to early-stage funding to Small Medium Enterprises and to assist them in running their businesses. The fund seeks to reach out to SMEs in remote/rural provinces, create new sustainable jobs plus its focus areas are networking, coaching, mentoring, skills acquisition and financing. The fund also offers equity and debt instruments over loan periods no longer than 60 months.

In order to qualify for funding you must be a South African Small to Medium Enterprise that is accredited by the Enablis Entrepreneurial Network, and you should be a black woman entrepreneur. The fund provides capital to start-ups, and for the expansion of a business. Small businesses involved in all sectors, especially ICT, transport, tourism, agriculture and services industry and SMEs that need working capital and/ or asset finance are eligible. Enablis Acceleration Fund provides members with opportunities to connect with other potential customers, partners and investors. Members have access to knowledgeable business people from various industries and countries. Professionals such as lawyers, accountants, marketers and financiers offer advice to the Enablis Acceleration Fund members.

National Empowerment Fund

Another organisation that offers funding for women’s business in South Africa is the The National Empowerment Fund (NEF) established by the National Empowerment Fund Act, 1998. The NEF has been essential in driving and promoting and facilitating black economic participation by providing financial and non-financial support to black empowered businesses. Also the fund, promotes a culture of savings and investment among black people. The NEF Women Empowerment Fund is aimed at accelerating the provision of funding to businesses owned by black women in South Africa. The fund offers business loans ranging from R250 000 to R75-million across all industry sectors, for startups, expansion and equity acquisitions to name a few. To obtain funding from the National Empowerment fund the following requirements should be met.

  • A Minimum of 51% black female ownership.
  • Operational involvement at the managerial and board levels by black women.
  • Commercial viability of the business case being presented.
  • Compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.
  • Ability of the business to repay WEF funding.
  • Creation of jobs.
  • Geographic location of the business is also important with the focus on rural or economically depressed areas encouraged.
  • Possibility of co-funding with private or public sector institutions is encouraged in larger projects.
  • For property transactions, at least 51% of the annual expenditure of the business to be allocated to majority black-owned businesses

Isivande Women’s Fund

Isivande Women’s Fund is the third organisation  that funds women’s businesses in the country. In 2008, government partnered with Old Mutual’s Masisizane fund to set up the R100 million Isivande Women’s Fund that is directly targeted toward women enterprises. The fund offers loans at lower interest rates, as well as non-financial support. The fund is meant to reduce poverty by empowering entrepreneurs who are often constrained by limited access to finance. As such, Isivande Women’s Fund (IWF) is a fund that targets black women at the bottom of the economic ladder. Its aim is to accelerate women’s economic empowerment by providing affordable, usable and responsive finance. The Isivande Women’s fund is managed by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) on behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry through Identity Development Fund (IDF) managers.

Formally registered enterprises that are 50% + 1 share owned and/or managed by women are eligible to receive funding.

Masisizane Fund

Masisizane fund is another organisation that has a specific focus on black women, youth, and people with disabilities. The fund mainly focuses on the under-developed areas of South Africa, including its rural areas, small towns, and townships, where businesses are typically seen as high-risk and struggle to secure finance through traditional channels. The fund provides financial support to  businesses in the manufacturing, franchising and agricultural sectors.  Masisizane Fund offers grants, loans and technical support to these small to medium enterprises. Their goal is to fund and enable women entrepreneurs to gain market access for their businesses and to create jobs. The Fund, which was established in 2007, also funds black-owned enterprises that are linked to clearly-defined enterprise and supplier development strategies of various corporate and government entities.

 African Women’s Development Fund

The fifth organisation offering funding for women’s business in South Africa is the African Women’s Development Fund. African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) is a grant-making foundation that supports local, national and regional women’s organisations working towards the empowerment of African women and the promotion and realisation of their rights. The fund offers grants ranging from USD$8000 to USD$100,000. The African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) is a Pan-African grant making organisation that supports African women’s rights through funding of autonomous women’s organisations all over Africa. The fund was established in the year 2000, and has awarded grants of over US$41.7 million to over 1,300 women’s organisations in 46 countries in Africa and the Middle East.

The basic qualifying criteria for applying for the African Wowen’s Development Fund are as follows:

  • Must be led by a woman and have majority of its staff and board being women
  • Must be duly registered in an African country
  • Must have been in existence for at least 3 years
  • Must have the needed organisational structures for effective implementation of the project
  • Must have an appreciable financial management system to properly account for funds received
  • Must be capable of reporting back on the outcomes of the project
  • Must complete the necessary application forms

Africa Trust Group

Africa Trust Group provides funding for women’s business in South Africa. It is a South African based early stage gender-lens investing group committed to investing in Africa’s women entrepreneurs encompassing enterprise development, and access to markets and trade facilitation.

Africa Trust Group are the fund managers for

  • Enygma Ventures Fund

Selected businesses participate in Enygma Ventures’ investor readiness programme to receive seed equity investment.

  • Empress Fund, this fund specializes in innovative financing vehicles from USD$1000 to USD$50,000 for women-owned and women-enabling businesses in SADC the region.

Absa Woman Empowerment Fund

Absa Women Empowerment Finance facility was created for new and existing woman-owned businesses. If the business has a revenue stream and a positive cash flow but lacks a deposit, collateral or security, it can qualify for a loan of up to R50 million. This woman’s fund also provides flexible options to repay the loan either on a monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly or annual basis.  Female entrepreneurs can borrow funds between R150 000 and R50 million plus the repayment terms can get up to 10 years.

The minimum criteria for applying for a loan at Absa Woman Empowerment Fund;

  • Business must be conducted for profit and must show evidence of future revenue and repayment ability
  • The applicant must be a South African citizen and the business must be registered in South Africa
  • Business must be at least 51% owned and controlled by women
  • The applicant must have industry skills and expertise
  • Must have a viable business plan (or a business profile for purchase order finance must be provided)
  • If you don’t hold a business transactional account with us, it will be a condition that it must be moved to Absa
  • At least one of the owners must exercise management control of the business on a day-to-day basis

Special Projects and Programmes

The 8th fund that finances women businesses in South Africa is the Special Projects and Programmes Unit (SPP). The SPP is within the Programme Analysis and Development (PAD) of SEDA, plus it has an arm that focuses on projects specifically for women. The SPP focuses on supporting women so that they are not hindered by negative prevailing socio-cultural attitudes, gender discrimination or bias and personal difficulties. The Special Projects unit was established by the Accounting Authority to primarily address its transformational agenda and rural and township revitalisation. Also, the SPP creates a platform where women can educate themselves about all the various aspects of becoming an entrepreneur. Special projects and programmes are meant to contribute towards the economy of the municipalities and provide youth unemployment. Special projects also target NGOs, Cooperatives, local municipalities and public entities.

Women in Oil and Energy South Africa

In addition to the above organisations, another company that offers funding for women’s businesses in South Africa is the Women in Oil and Energy South Africa group (WOESA). The WOESA Group of businesses aims on facilitating and promoting business for, and enhancing, the participation of South African women in the oil and energy sector. The organisation offers services to its member companies, organisations and individuals that focus on developing a knowledge base and building capacity amongst women through education and training. With WOESA, one can have access to business opportunities, plus obtain assistance in drafting legislation and policies. Other services provided by WOESA, apart from access to finance are;

  • Organising workshops and conferences
  • Develop a knowledge base and make it accessible to its members
  • Training
  • Interface between members and business opportunities
  • Networking, lobbying and advocacy
  • Participation in drafting legislation and policies
  • Facilitation of access to finance/funding for business opportunities for women in the oil and energy sector
  • Developing and maintaining an interactive website with information for members only, containing news, legislation, articles, business opportunities, a calendar and more.
  • Recruitment of women in the oil and energy sector.