Business Funding Opportunities for Youth in South Africa

Posted on October 25th, 2021
Articles Funding Start Startup Funding

This article forms part of our Youth Month 2020 series, #WeMove, providing youth business funding tools and resources to help you to start TODAY.

Also in the series:
The Best Time to Start a Business is Now – 10 PLUS Business Ideas for Youth
13 Youth Initiatives and Support Networks to Join This Youth Month

business funding for youth

UPDATE: This article was originally published in June 2020, but due to its popularity it’s been updated on 25 October 2021.

Below is a list of business funding opportunities and grant programmes specifically for young people.

Note: Visit the organisation’s website for more information.

  • Youth Micro Enterprise Relief Fund (All)

The NYDA in an effort to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 will provide a Relief Fund to youth-owned enterprises for a period of three months. This fund is targeted at youth-owned businesses that meet the following criteria:

  • The youth owned enterprise must have been existing and operating for a period of six (6) months prior to the lockdown. Proof of this must be submitted in a form of management accounts (i.e. invoices, orders, etc.)
  • The youth owned enterprises must be able to provide financial statement for three (3) months before the lockdown and statements during the lockdown.
  • The youth owned enterprise must submit CIPC registration documents except for informal businesses
  • The youth owned enterprise must provide proof of banking details that is not older than six (6) months
  • Demonstrate how the enterprise has been impacted by COVID-19
  • The relief fund will cover operational costs only
  • The relief fund will be capped at a maximum of R10,000.00 per youth owned enterprise and this will be a once-off amount
  • The application period is from 20 April up to 30 May 2020

Download an application form HERE.

  • Thusano Fund (STUDENTS, NGOs)

About the fund: The National Youth Development Agency allocates an annual budget to the Thusano Fund; the fund functions over and above the organisations’ sponsorships and is aimed at assisting small scale, immediate necessities.

Who qualifies?

The Thusano Fund will consider the following applications:
– Requests up to and including R50,000 per candidate or organisation
– Individuals requiring funds to settle overdue tertiary or school fees
– Individuals aiming to pursue short courses
– NGOs requiring once off financial support
– NGOs in need of equipment
– Events for social development or awareness

Documentation needed for students:
– Thusano Fund Application Form
– Motivation or application letter stating the financial need
– Academic Record not less than three months or acceptance letter
– ID Copy (3 months)
– Proof of income for guardian or parents (for academic purposes)
– Affidavit
– Invoice or quotation from the institution of choice

For NGOs:
– Thusano Fund Application Form
– Motivation or application letter stating the financial need
– Constitution of the organisation
– Certified ID Copy (3 months)
– Proposal with financials
– Tax exemption compliance
– NPO/NGO registration documents (certificate)

All applications must be sent via email to

More info here

business funding for youth

  • National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) Grant Programme (ALL)

About the grant: The NYDA Grant Programme aims to provide young entrepreneurs with an opportunity to access both financial and non- financial business development support in order to enable them to establish or grow their businesses.

The grant can be used for the following:
– To purchase movable and immovable assets
– Bridging finance
– Shop renovations
– Working capital paid directly to the grantee
– Co-funding with legal entities only

Grants will be granted to individuals, co-operatives and community development facilitation projects.

The qualifying criteria of the grant includes that applicants are:
– Between the age 18-35 years
– Youth with skills, experience or; with the potential skill, appropriate for the enterprise that they conduct or intend to conduct.
– Require a grant from NYDA of not less than R1,000.00 and not more than R200,000.00 (for cooperatives the maximum threshold is R250,000) for individuals and companies. [For agriculture and technology related projects the maximum threshold is R250,000.]

To access the NYDA Grant Programme, you can:
– Contact the NYDA call centre on 0800 52 52 52.
– Visit your nearest NYDA branch.
– Download the application form

More info here

  • Youth Pipeline Development Programme (SELECTED)

About the fund: According to Finfind, the Youth Pipeline Development Programme is an IDC Special Scheme business support and grant funding programme that assists potential applicants to improve the readiness of their proposal, and thereby increase their probability for IDC consideration. The fund size of this programme is R50-million.

Who qualifies?

Sectors the programme will fund:
– Agro-processing and agriculture.
– Automotive and transport equipment.
– Basic metal and mining.
– Basic and speciality chemicals.
– Chemical products and pharmaceuticals.
– Clothing and textiles.
– Heavy manufacturing.
– Industrial infrastructure.
– Light manufacturing and tourism.
– Machinery and capital equipment.
– Media and motion pictures.
– New industries.

The qualifying criteria includes:

– Loan or grant is available to youth-owned businesses (irrespective of whether it qualifies for Gro-E Youth or not);
– Application must meet IDC sector and funding limits;
– Applicant can be start-up or expansion;

More info here

business funding for youth

  • Old Mutual’s Enterprise Development (SELECTED)

About the fund: Enterprise Development is aimed at developing small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMES) in the agriculture, manufacturing and commercial sectors. The portfolio funds enterprises that will create permanent sustainable jobs. The deal size is a grant funding between R500,000 and R2-million. Grant funding requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The Enterprise Development gives first preference to:

– Black woman-owned businesses
– Black youth-owned businesses
– Businesses that have shown effect or influence made through social and transformation activities.
– Businesses that have a strategic partner assisting the businesses with accessing markets, providing technical expertise and business development support (BDS).

Who qualifies?

– Buy-ins (purchase of shares from a party that is not part of the business. No, buyouts.
– Closed corporation (CC).
– Co-operative (Co-op) – Considered under specific conditions.
– Non-profit or non- governmental organisations (NPOs/NGOs). Only the ones which are setup to create a cluster of viable businesses or social enterprises.
– Private company (Pty) Ltd.
– Trusts – considered under specific conditions

Please take note of the following:

Old Mutual’s Enterprise Development (ED) team is available to you assist during their working hours Monday to Friday from 08:00 – 16:30. You can pitch your business to them.

Simangele Lekhuleni on 011 217 1885/ 081 448 4211
Dianne Richards on 011 217 1896/ 072 837 5654

More info here

  • African-German Youth Initiative Innovation Fund (All)

About the fund: The German Federal Government together with the African Union Commission launched the call for project proposals under the African-German Youth Initiative (AGYI) Innovation Fund. The aim is to improve and innovate youth exchange and mobility between African countries and Germany and, also, skills development. The budget for proposals should be between EUR 2.000 to EUR 12.000 and the implementation period should not exceed five months.

Who qualifies?

– For field 1 of the fund, applicants should be between 14 – 35 years old, but for the other fields there are no age restrictions.

– Applicants should be registered as a non-profit organisation in Benin, Togo, Ghana, South Africa or Tanzania. There is an option for non-registered youth groups to apply through a parent organisation.

Applications close in February every year.

  • Gro-E Youth Scheme (GREEN)

About the funding: The aim of the R950-million fund scheme is to provide finance to renewable energy and energy efficiency projects of smaller scale and manufacturing of Green products in South Africa.

Who qualifies?

The funding is available to South Africans and permanent residents up to and inclusive of the age of 35 years at the time of final approval.

The criteria for the application includes:
– Youth shareholding should be at least 26%;
– Youth operational involvement in the business;
– Applicant can be a start-up or expansion within South Africa;
– Cost per job of up to R750 000 for the duration of funding – calculated using total project cost;
– Applicant to meet the BBBEE requirements of the IDC – level 4 or have a plan to achieve this within 24 months; and
– Own contribution will be determined by the financial capacity of the entrepreneur and the cash flow profile of the business.

More info here

  • GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize (AGRICULTURE)

About this competition: This competition aims to find agribusinesses that bring technology, innovation, and passion to the agriculture and food industries.

Those who enter get a chance to:
– Win one of two US$50,000 cash prizes – for the most innovative and scalable business ventures.
– Be one of ten finalists who will benefit from a package of support to boost their business.
– Or be one of 250 applicants who will benefit from online training to strengthen their business plans.

Who qualifies?

– You have to be between the age 18-35 on the day of submission to the competition.
– Hold nationality (with official ID) from any of the 54 nations of the African Union.
– Be the founder/co-founder of the enterprise he or she represents in the competition and play an active role in its operations and leadership.
– Have no criminal record related to corruption, tax evasion, financial impropriety, felony or other offense.
– Not be a previous GoGettaz finalist.

The applicant’s venture must:
– Have its headquarters in one of the 54 countries of the African Union, and be officially registered by 1 August 2020.
– Be designed to be financially sustainable, either as a for-profit business or a market-based social venture.
– Generating revenue at least in part and aiming for non-donor-based sustainability.
– Play a role in the agri-food sector

Applications are open until 18 June 2020.

  • The Anzisha Prize (All)

About the fund: The Anzisha Program, a partnership between African Leadership Academy and Mastercard Foundation, each year selects 20 youth entrepreneurs to become Anzisha Prize Fellow. There is prize money over USD $100,000 available every year to entrepreneurs from all over Africa.

Who qualifies?

– 15 to 22-year-olds
– Nationals of an African country with a business based in Africa for African customers/beneficiaries.
– Applicants must have started their business already and be able to prove it.

Applications close in April every year.

More info here

business funding for youth

  • Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Scholarship Programme (High School learners)

About the initiative: The Foundation offers education from one of South Africa’s top achieving partner high schools to students who are in financial need, have a curious entrepreneurial mindset, and have the potential to excel academically.

The scholarship covers tuition and boarding, stationery and textbooks, a monthly allowance, toiletries, uniforms and casual clothing, and support for extra murals.

Who qualifies?

– Applicant must be a current grade 6 learner and 12 years old in year of application.
– Applicant must be a South African citizen.
– Applicant must demonstrate financial need.
– Applicant must obtain a minimum of 70 % for English and Mathematics.
– Must show entrepreneurial characteristics.

  • Allan Gray Entrepreneurship Challenge (High School learners)

About the initiative: Allan Gray Entrepreneurship Challenge is a gamified learning platform that is open to high school learners in South Africa. The competition runs over five weeks; each week learners log on to the AGEC website or mobile app and complete a series of micro-challenges.

During last year’s competition there were prizes worth R600 000 won throughout the competition.

Who qualifies?

The competition is open to all Grade 8-12 learners in South Africa, who have access to the internet.

  • Nextwork Global Exposure programme

About the funding: Investec CSI identifies a specific sector and global destination leading within that sector. A week-long carefully curated itinerary is crafted for a group of young entrepreneurs who are selected to participate in the programme and to gain global exposure. The aim is for them to return to South Africa with global insights, learning, innovation, potential partners, collaborations, funders and markets for their product or service.

All costs related to the global exposure programme including flights, accommodation, meals, transfers and content sessions are covered by Investec, but successful candidates are expected to pay a minimal contribution fee of R5,000 towards the trip.

Who qualifies?

– You are the full-time business owner.
– You must have shareholding in the business as employees are not considered.
– Your business has been operating for at least 24 months.
– Your business must be fully operational/ trading and not in ideation phase.
– The business must be registered and operated as a for-profit business.
– Entrepreneurs must be South African citizens or permanent residents under the age of 40.
– Applicant has not attended a previous Investec sponsored trip in the same sector
– Business turnover must be under R50m per year.

Applications typically close in January every year.

More info here

  • World Export Development Forum 2019 Young Social Entrepreneurs pitching competition (Social enterprises)

About the funding: The selected companies pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges with a chance of winning seed funding to develop or scale up their projects. The pitching competition is an initiative of ITC’s Youth and Trade programme, which aims to connect young social entrepreneurs to markets and support.

In 2019, – Siyabuddy, a recycling and waste management company based in Steenbok Village of South Africa was announced the winner of the World Export Development Forum 2019 Young Social Entrepreneurs pitching competition. The company won a grand prize of $5,000 in seed funding provided by the International Trade Centre.

Who qualifies?

Contestants who all aim to demonstrate concrete contributions to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4, on quality education, and Goal 8, on sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

More info here



  • StepUp! Young Health Global Grants Programme (NGOs)

About the initiative: This programme offers grants of up to US$10,000 to help youth-focused non-profits that work to reduce risk factors for young people that can cause Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, as well as effectively combat climate change through sustainable environmental solutions. The projects must address the needs of youth between the ages of 10 and 30 years old who live in under-resourced communities.

Who qualifies?

– Projects that address nutrition will be prioritised.

– Your application must show that your project utilises technology or digital health solutions in an inclusive way.

– Projects that are innovative (unique), are youth-led, and are run in a low- or lower-middle- income country or setting will be considered.

– The project must be primarily funded by this grant and must be run by an organisation with an income and capacity to deliver a grant of this size.

– The project must not be a previous recipient of the StepUp! grant.

More info here

  • WDB Growth Fund (Black-Owned, Women)

About the initiative/ competition: Women- and youth businesses looking to expand their companies can send their business profile to WBD Growth Fund, a Section 12J Fund. For an equity stake in your business, this impact investment fund provides access to markets, as well as specialist mentors, capital support, and high impact post-investment support. Businesses can apply for investments from between R2-million to R10-million.

Who qualifies?

– Your business must be Black-owned and have an emphasis on Black women and youth.

– Businesses that have been operating for a minimum of 12 months and are generating a revenue of R2-million per annum will be considered.

– Founders must be involved in the business on a full-time basis and the accountant must be employed or outsourced.

– Have a trading record of at least two years and are generating a turnover of at least R2-million per annum.

– Businesses that have a support staff of a minimum of two people and have the potential to create more jobs.

– Businesses that have a governance framework in place.

– Businesses that are in the following sectors do not qualify for an investment: financial services, property development, professional services, and Sin business (such as gambling, alcohol, tobacco and weapons manufacturers).

More info here

  • MSC Business Incubator (All)

About the initiative: Entrepreneurs with early-stage ventures can apply to win business capital of R14,500, as well as a 12-month coaching program. This initiative is a collaboration between the MSC Business College Bloemfontein and the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda).

A total of 20 entrepreneurs will be chosen for this program based on: the solution that your business solves for potential customers, whether your business is scalable, your venture’s profitability, as well as innovation and talent (the expertise you and your team bring to the business).

Who qualifies?

– South Africans between the ages of 18 and 35 can apply.

– You should be the founder of the new business that has been trading for at least six months.

– Must have the capacity and willingness to achieve the program’s monthly goals, as well as implement the suggestions made that you will receive during this program.

More info here