The South African government established the Jobs Fund in 2011 to support projects that create jobs in innovative ways. The fund awards grants to public, private and non-governmental organisations through a competitive application process, which ensures that only the best ideas are funded.
At its core, the Jobs Fund seeks to operate as a catalyst for innovation and investment in activities that directly create sustainable long-term employment.
The fund aims to create 150 000 sustainable jobs in South Africa. Each project supported is implemented over three years and monitored and evaluated for two years.
South Africa needs significant and sustained economic growth if it is to address the challenge of unemployment. The key to unlocking this growth lies in improving and reforming the county’s macroeconomic policy environment, infrastructure, schooling system and regulatory frameworks, but this will take time. The Jobs Fund does not intend to tackle these long-term, structural causes of low growth and unemployment on its own. There are many government initiatives that are already working on these challenges. Nor does the Jobs Fund aim to replicate or substitute these initiatives. Rather, it presents an opportunity to complement them.
The Jobs Fund seeks to overcome the barriers to job creation, some of which relate to demand for labour, some to the supply of labour and some to the broader institutional environment. To address these barriers, it provides public funding through four “funding windows”: support for work seekers, enterprise development, institutional capacity building and infrastructure investment. It also provides support through sector-specific funding rounds, such as agriculture.
Within these four windows, the Jobs Fund seeks to stimulate ideas, risk-taking and investment to discover new ways of working. The costs and risks of new approaches may be unknown, but they have the potential to create more jobs, particularly for the poor, than conventional approaches. The Jobs Fund is a challenge fund, which means funding allocations are transparent, open and competitive, and are made by an independent investment committee. The fund issues rolling calls for proposals and selects projects that closely align with its objectives. Project partners share risks and costs by matching the grant allocation. The projects should achieve the desired results, test innovative concepts and models, and operate in an efficient, effective and beneficial manner for all participants.