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The National Empowerment Fund Is Showcasing R200 Million Worth of Investment at Africa's Travel Indaba The National Empowerment Fund (NEF) and 8 of its investees recently exhibited at Africa's Travel Indaba 2019, which took place at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban in May.

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After the Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom opened the event he urged participants to enhance the Indaba "Every year we drive massive growth in tourism numbers by bringing together a range of our best and most unique products from across our continent, and connecting them with buyers from across the world."

Africa's Travel Indaba is the biggest platform for African tourism businesses to meet global buyers of their products and services. The three-day show attracts Africa's finest tourism and travel trade offerings, which attract the most influential buyers in the world.

In the State of the Nation Address in February this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa said "In the past year, we had 10 million tourists who came to our country. We intend to raise this to 21 million by 2030, targeting, among others, the largest and fastest growing markets of India and China, as well as strong markets on our continent."

"Tourism product owners across the continent share the common challenge of attracting visitors in an increasingly competitive global market. The tradeshow illustrates how tourism offerings from various African countries have differentiated themselves by using their unique cultural, historical and natural assets to the full benefit of their tourism industries," says Philisiwe Mthethwa, CEO of the NEF.

"Africans must own their narrative so that they can embark on the journey of changing the continent's story."

Tourism Transformation Fund

In June 2018 the Department of Tourism (NDT) signed an agreement with the NEF to establish the Tourism Transformation Fund (TTF) which focuses exclusively on the transformation of the South African tourism sector.

According to this agreement the NDT will transfer a total of R120 million to the NEF over a 3-year period to be applied as grant funding for the benefit of qualifying enterprises that meet the funding eligibility criteria as set out by the two institutions. To date the NDT has transferred a total of R80 million towards the TTF.

The NEF finances the loan and shareholder loan portions of the transactions and NDT funds are applied as grant funding through the TTF. The fund provides a maximum grant of R5 million or 30% of the total project funding requirement to each eligible transaction.

The fund was launched as a pilot for three years where three application windows will be advertised for the public to make submissions directly to the NEF.

"All these initiatives are an indication of our commitment to ensuring that tourism plays the strategic role that it has the potential to play in turning around the economic fortunes of the country while also creating equitable participation in the economy. The NEF has already committeed over R200 million to the sector, and this is set to grow meaningfully as a result of our dynamic partnership with the Department of Tourism," added Mthethwa.

"South Africa's spectacular scenery, excellent infrastructure and distinction as a destination of choice, position the country as among the most desired places to visit and do business in, globally. The Indaba will allow NEF investees an unrivalled and effective platform to showcase their products and services, and to do business with their counterparts from across the world," said Mthethwa.

Tourism and leisure as a targeted growth sector constitutes a growing focus of the NEF in a portfolio of approved transactions valued at R9.8 billion countrywide.

Related: Seed Capital Funding For South African Start-Up Businesses

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