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The National Empowerment Fund (NEF) is a driver and thought leader in promoting and facilitating black economic participation by providing financial and non-financial support to black empowered businesses and promoting a culture of savings and investment among black people.

The NEF’s role is to support Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BB-BEE). It provides business loans from R250 000 to R75 million across all industry sectors, for start-ups, expansion and equity acquisition purposes

The NEF implements its mandate in three ways:

1. Asset Management

By structuring accessible retail savings products for black people through its Asset Management Division, which is a custodian of certain equity allocations in State-Allocated Investments (SAIs), the NEF aims to foster a culture of savings and investment among its beneficiaries.

2. Fund Management

Fund Management, as a facilitator of the Codes of Good Practice of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act (the Codes), supports the pillars of black enterprise by providing financial and non-financial solutions across a range of sectors to black empowered businesses, for start-up, expansion and equity transformation purposes.

3. Strategic Projects Fund

As a leader in venture capital finance which allows entrepreneurs to participate in projects that are at an early stage within sectors identified by the RSA government as key drivers to the economic growth of South Africa. The fund also provides project finance and private equity in these projects once they are regarded as bankable.

NEF funding is currently obtainable from the following four funds:

Imbewu Fund:

This Fund is designed to support black entrepreneurs wishing to start new businesses as well support existing black-owned enterprises with expansion capital. The Fund supports these entities by offering debt, quasi-equity and equity finance products with the funding threshold ranging from a minimum of R250 000 to a maximum of R10 million.

Umnotho Fund:

This Fund is designed to improve access to BEE capital and has five products: Acquisition Finance, Project Finance, Expansion Finance, Capital Markets Fund, and Liquidity and Warehousing. These products provide capital to black-owned and managed enterprises, black entrepreneurs who are buying equity shares in established black and white-owned companies, starting new ventures, expanding existing businesses and BEE businesses that are or wish to be listed on the JSE.

Rural and Community Development Fund:

This Fund was designed to promote sustainable change in social and economic relations and supporting the goals of growth and development in the rural economy, through financing of sustainable enterprises. This would be achieved through the mobilisation of rural communities in legal entities or cooperatives, in order to participate in the broader economic activities and realise the economic transformation goals in rural South Africa.

The fund has three products: Acquisition Finance, Expansion Capital and Project Finance (New Venture/Start-up/Greenfields) with the funding threshold ranging from a minimum of R1 million to R50 million.

Strategic Projects Fund:

This fund is a unit of the NEF established with a mandate to increase the participation of black people in early-stage projects. It is aligned to national Government policy and seeks competitive opportunity for the South African economy and the inclusion of black participation in opportunities at the outset of projects, as opposed to doing so during equity closure.

Business Discussion


At Funding Connection, we understand the complexities of the various funding agencies and the unique application criteria for each. We have assisted numerous entrepreneurs through the application process to access funds like this for business growth, and we can help you with the whole process.


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