Usually when people get high, they retell stories of experiencing God, seeing the world in animated form, experiencing healing or staring death in the face. But this particular high birthed a company that is now revolutionizing how entrepreneurs access finance.

To get an understanding of why this company exists, you need to understand the minds behind it. After being financially excluded, managing to maneuver his way into and then flunking out of Wits, Luyanda Jafta was always going to break the norm and rebuild the world as he saw fit. He’s nicknamed “Einstie”(a nod to Einstein) in the company and it’s no mistake. He’ll run maths equations in his head and come to an answer while you’re still searching for a calculator. There’s not a subject he won’t read up on. So on a normal night in July 2017, after getting frustrated with simply being a player in the game and not having a say in the iteration, he got high and saw the future. It was built around communities. It was collaborative. Being a seeker, he dove deeper to uncover his role in that future. From that, the idea of The People’s Fund came about. He then called on the two men whose paths made sense for this journey, Mzuzile Soni and Selebogo Molefe. With that, The People’s Fund was born.

Initially serving as a platform that provided asset backed crowdfunding for small, black owned businesses such as Native Nosi, Walk Fresh SA, Skinny Sbu and Tshepo The Jean Maker, July 2018 saw the shift to purchase order funding. Since then, The People’s Fund has outlaid R177,5 million in funding for over 850 projects. 

What is a purchase order you may ask? Put simply, a purchase order is a commercial document that details an official order placed by a buyer (from either corporate or government) to a seller indicating types, quantities, and agreed-upon prices for products or services required. After the fulfilment of that order, the seller is then paid by the buyer’s organization that issued out the order. Purchase order funding therefore, is a cash-flow management solution that helps a seller fulfil an order placed by the buyer, by providing capital to cover the expenses related to the fulfilment of the order. As The People’s Fund, we come in as a profit-sharing ‘partner’ to the entrepreneur’s business where we pay their suppliers on their behalf; and then we get our money back when the client pays them*, along with our portion of the profits (in the form of a facilitation fee). 

Serving a usually ignored market but one that’s critical to the economy, TPF has contributed to ensuring that black entrepreneurs with purchase orders valued below R250 000 can stay active in the economy, deliver on time, gain trust with their clients and make a living! While they do fund higher value POs and don’t have a cut off amount, the R250 000 and under market is the one that makes a difference in everyday people’s lives. Those are the purchase orders that ensure patients in hospitals have sugar for their tea, bread to eat and that the defence force has groceries. 

All of this work having started on a high, we look forward to being part of this collaborative future that sees us all participating.

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