Khanyi Dhlomo: NEF funding was above board

Speaking on Talk Radio 702, the Ndalo Media and Ndalo Luxury Ventures chief executive said the National Empowerment Fund's (NEF) loan for her luxury boutique Luminance was not helped along by her name and that stringent commercial terms set by the funding institution were followed.

Dhlomo responded to accusations by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) that the business was "an exclusive, elite boutique of overpriced clothes in Hyde Park". The clothing store stocks brands that include Giorgio Armani, Tom Ford, Oscar de la Renta and Alexander McQueen.

“If one reads some of the characterisations of the business as a boutique in Hyde Park that sells expensive clothing, naturally, if you put the figure of R34.1-million next to that kind of description, it will create anger and misunderstanding," Dhlomo said.

“There is far more to it than that. I don’t deny that you can use some of those words to describe it but it’s a mini-department store, not a boutique, which means it is a retail business that requires a meaningful investment,” she said.

After the shop's opening in Hyde Park last week, reports revealed that the fund extended the loan to Dhlomo and her partners for the financing of the shop. The event, according to Politicsweb, was attended by a number of high-level politicians, including NEF chief executive Philisiwe Mthethwa and Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane.

Dhlomo insisted that funding was above board.

"I'm really comfortable that we’ve ticked all the boxes and that this deal has 100% integrity. We’ve got absolutely nothing to hide and I really think that we should be celebrating that for a change black people are starting a business from scratch and not going to buy an overpriced, existing business.

“We need to move forward and accept that we can participate at all levels of the economy as black and white people, male and female.”

Dhlomo disagreed with the assumption that her name and track record could have influenced the NEF's decision to grant funding. She said that requirements for the business to give up equity and for the shareholders to put in a significant amount of their own money could “potentially not have been expected” if that were the case.

“What hasn’t been mentioned in this entire debacle is that myself, Mrs Dhlomo [Venetia Dhlomo – Kanyi's mother] and Dr [Judy] Dlamini have collectively put in R15-million of our own money that we did not borrow from anywhere. Even if you’re launching a smaller business, it’s important to put something in,” she said.

The entire interview can be listened to below.

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