The Social Employment Fund (SEF) says it is inundated with new applications for the new round of funding – a fund that is part of the Presidential stimulus package unveiled by President Cyril Ramaphosa in October 2020 to offset the economic impact of COVID-19.
The programme has created 65 000 part-time jobs and 28 organisations across the country have received support from the fund through the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).
The IDC is tasked with administering the R800 million fund and the demand for the fund is huge. The IDC can only fund 35 projects in the new round and so far over 200 applications have been received, applicants for the funding include community development organisations and NGOs.
Role players say this is a testament that there is a need to turn the fund into policy as it has proven to be a vehicle towards the creation of well-needed jobs.
Presidential Employment Stimulus Kate Phillips says, “I think what we’ve seen in the inception period over the 2 years is enormous potential if this approach, in fact, the number of applicants who qualify for the fund in the very first round we could have created 300 000 jobs instead of the 50 000 that we funded…”
“I think what we have here is a strong proof of concept approach that we can take to greater scale to address the challenges of unemployment at the community level and in communities where it is felt the most so really the policy challenge is how can we amplify and support, adds Phillips.
IDC reviews Social Employment Fund projects:
In its pilot round, the SEF was aimed at creating jobs in sectors as diverse as education, the agriculture sector, and infrastructure development. The IDC says there has been a tangible impact in various communities.
Industrial Development Corporation’s Bhavanesh Parbhoo says, “Via the SEF we’ve been able to create 50 000 temporary work opportunities for individuals throughout the country contributing to massive issues that our economy faces. The second part beyond employment is we have a raft of wicked problems within society in health, GBV, access to nutrition, education, and vegetation. So, how does one find innovative ways of solving these problems and getting community members to solve this themselves.”
But some that have already benefited from the fund say their projects are not yet sustainable. They want to be considered once again in the new financial year.
Hlanganisa Chiedza Changutah says, “I think there’s no doubt that the fund needs to continue, our organisation currently employs 2620 women as part of the Social Employment Fund but the reach that these women have been able to have is over 25 000 survivors of GBV have been assisted in the last 11 months…
The fund has also seen clean-up project jobs created and tourism drives rolled out in the Joburg CBD. Something that has given tourists and locals some safety comfort.
Belgian Tourist Vitorino Rocha says, “It changed a lot from what I heard and what I’ve seen. Before coming here I would hear that it’s dangerous, you have to be very careful, you cannot go here, you cannot go there and even when I arrived they said the CBD is dangerous, what I see is a different story…”
Bidding for companies to form part of the new round of the fund has closed with the process now moving to parliament.
The IDC claims that the 50 000 job creation target in two years was overseen as they call for boosted funding beyond R800 million that they believe will create jobs, help address social ills and work to strengthen the local economy.