The CDI Growth Fund has achieved an important milestone with its portfolio of 27 SMMEs – it has now reached a total of 639 contracted jobs, which is 7% above target.

CDI Capital is a niche emerging impact funder, and subsidiary of the Craft + Design Institute (CDI) non-profit and the implementing partner of the CDI Growth Fund. As an impact funder, CDI Capital is committed to creating positive social and economic impact in the SMME sector and the South African economy. The CDI Growth Fund provides grant funding for small businesses that are experiencing growth or are poised for expansion in any sector and can create jobs.

The CDI Growth Fund provides grant funding to unlock barriers to growth for SMMEs and this growth leads to the creation of new permanent jobs. To further support these SMMEs, CDI Capital also provides mentorship and access to working capital loans of up to R500,000 to help fund purchase orders and working capital needs linked to their growth.

The current round of funding, supported by the National Treasury’s Jobs Fund, has a target to create at least 600 new jobs by 31 March 2023.

The current round has a total grant commitment of R23,4m to date (excluding SMME contributions), and is above targets for the number of black-owned businesses supported, as well as in terms of jobs created for previously disadvantaged individuals.

Ryan Rode, the manager of CDI Capital, says that the achievement of the milestone is a testament to the hard work put in by staff and the SMMEs to ensure the funding achieves impact.

“We believe that small businesses are vital to growing our economy and creating jobs – and we are extremely pleased with the performance of the SMMEs who only lost 11% turnover during financial year 2021 (Covid-19) and bounced back with 40% turnover growth in 2022, increasing their collective turnover by R111m during the project to R293m.”

He added that in the coming months further research will be undertaken to obtain the business owners’ insights into their experience of the project, which is part of a methodology of continuous improvement.

Here’s what some of the funding recipients had to say:

Aegir Project Brewery

“When an opportunity to expand and grow our business into an additional premises we were in no position to make the jump financially, an expensive expansion we knew we could do if we had the financial support. As a small business we almost lost this opportunity if it wasn’t for our CDI funding. It allowed us to take our small 25 seater taproom and turn it into a 350 seater business. It allowed us to become a viable business, create numerous jobs and really stabilise our future. This grant, for us, was a unique opportunity to grow organically, without jeopardising our ethos, brand or quality, something we are immensely proud of and thankful for.” – Rory Lancellas

Tehilaa Golden Bag

“Tehilaa Golden Bag was one of many SMEs given a chance to showcase our growth through the assistance by CDI. Through funding and mentorship, CDI provided machineries and cash injections which help Tehilaa to expand and grow. Through CDI’s funding, our sales turnover immediately grew by more than 60% and is continually growing. Our work force increased from 55 to 103 permanent workers and 12 casuals.

During the peak of pandemic in 2020, most small business suffered from lockdowns, and many were permanently closed. Our rental, water and electricity still needed to be paid irrespective of production, which like for most businesses caused severe stress. Our workers needed financial assistance during lockdown periods; our customers pulled their orders due to clothing being non-essential; and our school uniform orders were all cancelled.

CDI remained in action and was never silent, looking for remedies to assist SMEs during their time of need. CDI offered Tehilaa Golden a combined grant and 0% interest loan to bridge our financial problem. The funding was used to buy raw materials on a cash basis as all our raw materials suppliers announced COD and/or 50% deposits prior for the orders. Our workers need was met by sending advance loan monies to their respective bank accounts. All rentals and other expenses were met until we slowly recovered. Tehilaa managed to convert our cancelled orders’ fabrics into a cloth mask orders which gave all our workers opportunities to work once again. Today, Tehilaa Golden remains standing and keeps strong and growing. CDI was there for us before the pandemic and during the stress of pandemic. Their actions and professionalism were always on time.

On behalf of Tehilaa Golden Bag, we would like to give a big thanks to the CDI team and to all who have been supporting our company in our long journey.” –Cherilyn Lucena


“Being a part of the Growth Fund has been a huge support to our small business. I was a part of the Authentic Leadership course, connecting me with other business owners also navigating through Covid, which was hugely enriching. Through the Growth Fund, we were able to access low interest finance which enabled us to take on three big export orders. We also did a six-month Kaizen course through Productivity SA which gave us practical tools to evaluate and improve our internal systems and processes in an ongoing way. This has helped us to reduce costs, improve efficiencies and become more profitable. We are so grateful to the CDI and Growth Fund for enabling us to grow our business and create new jobs over the past three years.” – Leanne Botha