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Obtaining funding from the National Empowerment Fund

Provided by Business Partners Ltd, South Africa's leading investor in SMEs

NEF.jpgThe National Empowerment Fund (NEF) was established by the National Empowerment Fund Act No 105 of 1998, to promote and facilitate black economic equality and transformation. Its mandate and mission is to be a vehicle for Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (BB-BEE).

Its goals are to:

  • Foster and support business ventures pioneered and run by black enterprises
  • Improve the universal understanding of equity ownership among black people
  • Contribute to the creation of employment opportunities
  • Encourage the development of a competitive and effective equities inclusive of all South Africans
  • Encourage and promote savings, investments and meaningful participation by black people
  • Provide black people with opportunity of, directly or indirectly, acquiring shares or interest in private business enterprises
  • State allocated investment (SAIs) that are being restructured or in private business enterprises
  • Generally employ the schemes, businesses and enterprises necessary to achieve the objectives of the NEF Act

The NEF's products and service offerings include:

1. Non-financial Support in the form of:

a) A Pre-Investment Business Support Unit that assists with funding advice, business planning and general assistance to ensure that applications are of sufficient quality to complete all steps in the application process

b) A Post-Investments Business Support Unit set up to monitor clients for risk and provide information and advice when needed. Although start-ups are inherently higher risk, the rewards for success are jobs and increased capital for further start-ups.

c) A Legal Services Unit that provides legal services to the entire NEF and drafts legal agreements, assists with due diligence reviews and registers necessary documents. 

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2. Imbewu Fund    

This fund is designed to promote the creation of new businesses and provide expansion capital to early stage businesses. The iMbewu Fund aims to cultivate a culture of entrepreneurship by offering debt, quasi-equity and equity finance of up to R20m comprising:

  • Entrepreneurship Finance
  • Procurement Finance
  • Franchise Finance
  • Rural & Community Development Projects


This fund is designed to improve access to BEE capital and has three products, Acquisition Finance, Project finance and Expansion Finance. These products provide capital to Black owned and managed enterprises, black entrepreneurs who are buying equity shares in established white owned enterprises, project finance and BEE businesses that are or with to be listed on the JSE.

Funding ranges from R5m to R100m and details of the three products are provided below: 

a. Acquisition Finance
b. Project Finance
c. Expansion Capital
d. Capital Markets
e. Liquidity & Warehousing
f. Strategic Projects Finance

Applying for Financing

The NEF funds entrepreneurial individuals and groups that further BB-BEE in South Africa. Your application for funding will assessed according to the following criteria:

  • Commercial viability of the project
  • Compliance with all relevant laws and regulations
  • Black managerial and operational involvement
  • Percentage of black ownership or interest
  • Return on investment
  • Job creation
  • Geographic location of business (rural/urban/disadvantaged area)
  • Black women empowerment
  • Community involvement
  • Possibility of co-funding (private or public sector)

Visit the NEF website for information on the application process and to download the application forms or contact the Call Centre on 0861 843 633 (THE NEF).

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