Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Education Community AffairsCommunity DevelopmentCurrent AffairsBanking EconomyManufacturing Government

Ithala Development Finance Corporation, KZN’s provincial development agency, remains optimistic that private sector investment will be key to beating the odds and stimulating growth this year. The predicted GDP growth for 2017 is forecast at 1.0 percent.

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Slow growth, rising unemployment, severe drought and political tensions are among the major hindrances to South Africa achieving a progressive economy.

A relatively quiet first half of the year for South Africa has been predicted by research and market analysis firm, Nomura.

According to The South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR), the three biggest provincial economies – Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Western Cape – account for 55.2 percent of South Africa’s population but contribute 64.1 percent to South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Ithala Development Finance Corporation, KZN’s provincial development agency, remains optimistic that private sector investment will be key to beating the odds and stimulating growth this year. The predicted GDP growth for 2017 is forecast at 1.0 percent.

Development Finance Institutions (DFI) such as Ithala continue to play a pivotal role in helping to advance government’s ‘developmental’ priorities. As instruments for positive change, DFIs strive to achieve a range of objectives to improve citizens’ quality of life - enhance public service delivery; increase economic growth; improve infrastructure; and create jobs.

In 2016, 367 SMMEs and co-operatives were granted business loans, thereby facilitating 2 396 jobs in KZN.

Ithala disbursed business loans totaling R120m to SMMEs and co-operatives during 2016.

“Our business intent is simple - as an organisation invested in people, we work tirelessly to empower the community and to provide an environment conducive to a better quality of life and improved prosperity, thus nurturing a legacy of growth, self-development and upliftment,” said Yvonne Zwane, Ithala Group Chief Executive.

“For 57 years, Ithala has remained steadfast in its commitment to banking the unbanked and championing the development of commercial centres and industrial estates in rural areas, whilst also financing and supporting fledgling SMME enterprises.”

The call by KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism & Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala, to enable the growth and development of SMMEs and co-operatives is supported at all levels of Ithala.

In a recent interview with Ukhozi FM, the MEC said: “There are certain products (called set-asides) that the government will only purchase from SMMEs and cooperatives as a way of keeping them in business.

"There is another programme called Black Industrialists - it is a government programme designed to assist people interested in industrialisation. We assist people through our agencies Ithala and KZN Growth Fund where they can get help with research or how to get into the industry.”

Ithala is a primary driver of economic development and a strategic enabler of support to people in disadvantaged communities.

The agency’s purpose is to make a real and sustainable difference in the lives of all those it serves by implementing strategic programmes as the weapon for positive change.

As a strategic provincial asset, Ithala has enormous potential to support key provincial development initiatives to complement the KZN Provincial Growth Strategy Plan.

Several local and surrounding communities across KZN are highly dependent on the existence of purpose-built industrial estates for employment, income and an improved lifestyle, as revealed by a socio-economic trend assessment of Ithala’s industrial properties.

Ithala has several industrial estates under its ownership - Isithebe, Ezakheni and Madadeni Industrial Estates - which collectively create over 40 000 jobs affording up to an estimated 300 000 people in regional areas a livelihood.

Isithebe, in particular, in northern KZN, is among several industrial estates identified by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for phase one of a revitalisation programme.

The valued contribution from DTI attests to the growing relevance of industrial estates and the significant role they play in developing the economy. The diversification of activities through industrialisation and manufacturing attracts valuable investments in the areas in which the industrial estates are located.

With over one million square meters of industrial and commercial space, Ithala is well placed to provide essential infrastructure to service a variety of business sectors across KZN, thereby affirming its position as the second biggest landlord in the province.

In supporting the province’s socio-economic vision, Ithala Properties continues to work with both the public and private sectors to leverage its infrastructure base to advance industrialisation in KZN.

Three flagship programmes have been instrumental in transforming people’s dreams into reality:

“Siyasebenza” which means “We are working” is a series of developmental outreach programmes by Ithala aimed at uplifting youth, women and SMMEs in townships and rural areas.

To date, Ithala has run fully day training programmes in five municipal districts reaching over 500 SMMEs. Workshops in the remaining six of the 11 KZN municipalities targeted will commence in February 2017.

Ithala develops and supports programmes that create an enabling environment for female entrepreneurs in line with their mandate to be a catalyst for growth, economic development and empowerment.

“Imbokodo Iyazenzela” or “Women doing it for themselves” is a unique enterprise development journey which seeks to acknowledge dynamic women making a positive impact in their communities on a public platform.

The programme has been a pillar of support to female entrepreneurs who require access to finance and the resources to grow.

The outreach programme involved a series of informative breakfast workshops across the KZN province over a three-month period. In 2016, Ithala reached 1 441 women largely in rural communities. The top three winners walked away with cash prizes to help boost their businesses.

The “Inkunz’isematholeni Youth in Business Programme” was launched in 2014 to enable aspiring entrepreneurs to turn their creative concepts into fully operational businesses by providing start-up capital and the necessary business support to help them launch, manage and run their businesses successfully.

The top two winners each received over R450 000 worth of business support for innovative business ideas in Energy and Agriculture. The winners were able to elevate their businesses to the next level with continued support from Ithala.

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

Ithala has invested in corporate social investment initiatives aimed at providing much needed support to communities in which Ithala operates.

These include, but are not limited to, the provision of school uniforms and non-perishable food items to homes and schools and donation of cosmetic parcels, including sanitary pads, to girls who can’t afford basic necessities. 

Ithala also provides opportunities for learners and graduates to benefit from learning and skills development programmes.

Over the past five years, 48 learners have graduated through Ithala’s participation in the Bankseta Learnership programme. Ithala’s internship programmes include the National Certificate in Bank Credit Learnership which is jointly funded by Bankseta.

A bursary scheme affords previously disadvantaged KZN learners an opportunity to acquire tertiary qualifications in specified fields of study at certain recognised tertiary educational institutions in South Africa.

Ithala SOC Limited, a 100 percent owned subsidiary of Ithala Development Finance Corporation, recently launched the Ithala Education Fund to assist academically deserving and historically disadvantaged youth who cannot afford to pay registration fees to access tertiary education under the theme #LeaveNoStudentBehind.


For more information on Ithala visit or call 031 907 8911.



Issued by:       Ithala Development Finance Corporation

                        29 Canal Quay Road, Point Waterfront, Durban


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