RAPAPORT… De Beers Consolidated Mines (DBCM) opened a business incubator in Cape Town in January as part of a program to encourage entrepreneurship among historically disadvantaged South African communities.
The De Beers Marine Zimele Business Hub is DBCM’s first incubator in South Africa’s Western Cape Province. The Cape Town hub joins four Zimele hubs located in each of the other South African provinces where DBCM operates, the Northern Cape, Limpopo, Gauteng and the Free State. Lindiwe Zulu, South Africa’s small business development minister, attended the launch in a show of support for greater entrepreneurial activity in the country.
In 2014, De Beers Zimele supported 233 new small and medium-sized businesses that were collectively responsible for creating 2,335 jobs, according to DBCM. The company reported that the fund also provided a total of $5.3 million (ZAR 60.7 million) in loans to entrepreneurs last year.
“We want to affirm people to move forward. We are creating an environment in which you own your future,” Barend Petersen, DBCM’s chairman was quoted by Mining Weekly as saying at the Cape Town hub’s launch.
De Beers Zimele fund is named for the Nguni word meaning “to stand on one’s own feet.” The fund provides loans, business advice and other forms of support to entrepreneurs from historically disadvantaged minorities to setup businesses in sectors such as jewelry, construction, cleaning and laundry services. The incubator programs are specifically designed to help people not traditionally served by the established financial sector, providing starting loans to entrepreneurs without any collateral requirements at a 6 percent interest rate.