Published: Friday, November 4, 2016

Community AffairsCommunity DevelopmentBanking Economy

If the age-old adage that “Life is a journey, not a destination” is anything to go by, then the people we encounter along the way and the experiences to which we are exposed, will profoundly impact our personal and professional accomplishments.  Such is the conviction of Ithala Development Finance Corporation whose overall strategy is underpinned by strategic relationships with business, government and the community-at-large to create a sustainable environment.

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Ithala is KwaZulu-Natal’s provincial development agency, a primary driver of economic development and a strategic enabler of support to people in disadvantaged communities.

Armed with a deep understanding of the challenges encountered by the youth, the agency has long been driving the agenda of accelerating socio-economic development and empowerment.

For 57 years, Ithala has been spearheading initiatives aimed at enterprise development and mentorship with a focus on advancing youth and women.

Over the past five years, 12 425 jobs have been created through lending activities, 873 enterprises have been assisted and loans totalling R1, 45 billion have been advanced.

Testament to this is the Inkunz’isematholeni Youth in Business competition, a flagship project launched by Ithala in 2014 in an effort to tackle unemployment by encouraging the country’s youth to consider self-employment as a job option.

The initiative attracts youth with innovative and sustainable business concepts and provides incubation and start-up in their journey to becoming seasoned entrepreneurs.

“In our quest to transform people’s dreams into reality we believe in walking with you through every stage of development. We understand that sometimes in life, your success is dependent on that one person giving you the break you need,” said Yvonne Zwane, Ithala Group Chief Executive.

“If entrepreneurship is your chosen path, we will finance your dreams. If it is a bursary that is required to advance your career aspirations, we have the solution for you.”

She said that while the economic downturn had ramifications for the job sector, there were also entrepreneurial possibilities for the youth to consider outside the formal working environment and hence, they needed to be inspired in this direction.

The two winning business plans selected in the 2015 programme are currently under incubation and are expected to be fully operational later this year.

Ithala has come full circle in terms of fulfilling the needs of individuals from early childhood development phase through to academia and employment.

To support its development mandate, various other programmes have fulfilled the needs of youth at different stages of their lives.

The Abantwana Bethu’ campaign or ‘Adopt a School’ campaign aims to assist pre-identified rural schools with uniforms and other basic necessities required to create an enabling environment for learners in remote regions, allowing them to focus primarily on their education. As part of a Women’s Month initiative to enhance the dignity of female learners, sanitary pads were donated. 

The Starsaver project is a partnership with the Banking Association of SA where learners at high schools are targeted with financial literacy lessons to promote the value of accumulating personal wealth and the need to save.

Ithala’s Bursary Scheme makes it possible for previously disadvantaged matriculants in KZN to acquire tertiary qualifications in specified fields of study at certain recognised tertiary educational institutions in SA. Many deserving prospective graduates in the province whose only limitation were financial constraints, have thrived in their studies as a result of the scheme.

Learnership opportunities offered by Ithala provide students with valuable experience in a formal working environment. In supporting the National Agenda of ‘making every workspace a training space’, Ithala has become a leader in recruiting graduates within its facilities by training and developing them for brighter employment prospects.

The Inkunz’isematholeni Youth in Business awards ceremony will take place in November in Durban. Three lucky winners will each receive a business support package of up to R250 000 which will include:

  • Aftercare programme by Technology Innovation Agency

  • Aftercare programme by Invo Tech
  • Business Mentorship
  • Product development
  • Business skills development programmes
  • Patenting of inventions

“Ithala’s legacy is grounded on the premise that we were always there - we never turned our back on you. We saw an opportunity for people where others saw risk and took a chance on them.

“We have listened to people in all sectors of the economy and understand their challenges. For this reason, you will never have to walk through life alone,” concluded Zwane.

For more information on Ithala visit or call 031 907 8911. Follow Ithala on Facebook at myithala and Inkunzi Isematholeni or Instagram at Inkunzi_ithala or join the conversation on Twitter at #inkunziInspire.


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