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South Africa’s Groundbreaking New Public-private Fund for Black-owned Tourism Projects

In a bold move that has startled its tourism industry, which continues to reel from Covid’s impact, South Africa’s government this month opened an $82 million “Tourism Equity Fund” to provide capital — through a combination of debt finance, concessional loans and grants — to qualifying new or existing tourism and hospitality projects that are at least 51 percent Black South African-owned and controlled. Spearheaded by South Africa’s Department of Tourism, in collaboration with the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA), this public-private fund is the first of its kind in South Africa — and possibly at a global level — in that it is expressly intended to diversify the country’s tourism industry, which is predominantly white-owned and operated, by opening the door to ownership and equity for South African entrepreneurs of color of varying socioeconomic backgrounds, including women and youth.