A recently-launched fund is offering qualifying small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in the agro–processing and manufacturing sectors access to much needed debt funding. The South African SME Debt Fund, a partnership between Sanlam Investments and the Eskom Pension and Provident Fund (EPPF), was launched in the second quarter of 2022 with initial capital of R400-million available to help SMEs in these sectors reach their full potential. 

Eligible businesses should have a three-year track record, high-growth potential and stable business strategies. Businesses will be prioritised which have shown signs of profitability before the COVID-19 pandemic. The loans are priced at a maximum interest rate of prime, with an equity upside to yield a further 5% return. Loans will be repaid within a maximum period of 60 months. The fund is focussed primarily on supporting black-owned businesses; however, all eligible applications will be considered.

Key plans

SMEs, and in particular those in the agro-processing and manufacturing sectors, have been recognised as strategic priorities in a number of key government plans. But accessing funding remains tough. 

For the past 12 years, Vukile Themba-Mketo, portfolio manager at Sanlam Investments, together with her team, has run a number of debt funds aimed at offering smaller businesses access to funding to help them grow and thrive. “We don’t want to see SMEs left behind because they can’t access capital.” 


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