White River — Women in some of Mpumalanga's poorest regions will benefit from R400 million in unclaimed shares from insurance company Old Mutual.
The money will be used to finance small, medium and micro enterprises owned by women and to fund financial education and skills development.
The R400 million forms part of the R1.3 billion in proceeds that resulted from the sale of 54 million Old Mutual shares.
Shares worth R400 million remained unclaimed by policyholders when the Old Mutual Unclaimed Shares Trust closed on 31 August last year.
"Some of the funds have been set aside to assist in developing the ability of municipalities to serve their communities on a sustainable basis," said provincial Old Mutual manager Keetse Tlou at the launch of the Masisizane (let's help each other) project in White River.
He said the shares would be donated to Jobs for Growth (J4G) which is a national programme that supports government's Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (AsgiSA).
AsgiSA aims to halve poverty and unemployment by 2014, and to achieve 6 percent annual economic growth in 2010.
"The J4G programme aims to create about one million jobs over the next three to five years, through projects aimed mostly at women-owned and controlled small businesses and co-operatives in rural areas and semi-urban areas around cities," he said.
One of the criteria of the J4G Women's Fund is that 51 percent of employees should be women and 75 percent black.
The fund will support people who want to start small businesses, including co-operatives in rural and semi-urban areas.
"It also seeks to develop people's skills to successfully run their businesses and assist them in finding markets and procurement agreements," he added.