Everyone’s heard the term Black Economic Empowerment, but how does it work in contemporary South Africa?
By Craig Falck for Africa Report
South Africa was given a new lease on life in 1994 when the old government’s Apartheid programme was scrapped and the country received its first democratically elected president. One of the measures put into place to redress the political-economic wrongs was Black Economic Empowerment, where black business owners received preference to white-owned companies when applying for tenders. While many cried reverse racism, the fact of the matter is that BEE is a stabilising tool and is simply balancing business opportunities out to distribute wealth equally among the population.
The National Empowerment Fund was set up by the government to assist BEE-compliant businesses with their capital needs. Since 1998, the NEF has been part of almost US $100-million worth of BEE transactions. The agency plays a vital role in spreading wealth, because as any businessman or woman will tell you, it takes money to make money.
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