Startups looking for funding can now apply to the Design Innovation Seed Fund (DISF) for a share of R6.5m. The fund is looking for pre-revenue and innovative technologies in the agri-processing, health and bio-tech, and manufacturing sectors, says VentureBurn.
The fund is open to Western Cape-based early-stage companies and SMEs, businesses in incubation, entrepreneurs and researchers. Students at tertiary institutions in the Western Cape may also apply as long as the institution does not already have intellectual property claims to the product or service.
Preference will be given to businesses with at least a 25% black ownership and job creation potential.
The chosen applicants will be able to apply for up to R500,000 in funding. Entrepreneurs must also be able to match 20% of the funding in cash or in-kind contributions.
DISF is a product of the Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI). It receives investment and management funds from the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism.
The first round of the project, which launched in 2014, targeted 12 startups in the Western Cape out of 151 applicants. The applicants were able to move onto the next stages in their businesses and have collectively created 18 new jobs and a turnover of R2.4m in the past six months.
“The Seed Fund has given these innovators and entrepreneurs a little bit of breathing space and an opportunity to flex their muscles — which is all they really needed to take their next steps,” says executive director of the CCDI, Erica Elk, in a press release to Ventureburn.
“More importantly though, we didn’t just give them the money. We walked beside them every step of the way over the two years, providing support, advice and access to additional expertise when they needed it.”
According to Elk, the DISF has allowed the CCDI to create other investments, such as the Jobs Fund project, which is investing R14.5m into 45 companies over three years. These businesses have created over 464 new jobs as well as doubling in size and turnover.
Another creation is CCDI Capital, which is an SMME investment vehicle, which will manage the second round of DISF funding and another Jobs Fund programme.
According to the Western Cape provincial minister of economic opportunities, Alan Winde, the initiative is supported due to the global potential of businesses going through DISF.
“We have an ecosystem taking shape here at the southern tip of Africa because of programmes like this, because of the environment we are in, and because of the mindset of young people coming into the system. I encourage every person with an innovative idea in the focus areas to apply. This is an excellent platform to take your idea or business to a new level.”
Applications close on 4 November. Those wishing to enter can visit the CCDI Capital website.
Entrepreneurs, government and corporates attended the third annual 2016 Manufacturing Indaba held at the Emperors Palace in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng on 28 and 29 June.This year’s conference theme, “manufacturing the future”, was a challenge to attendees. The goal was to imagine an ideal industrial future that worked to the benefit of the globe. This year’s Indaba also focussed on small to medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs).
About the conference
The Indaba’s emphasis is on key industrial sectors. For the governmental co- hosts (the Department of Trade and Industry [the DTI], the Department of Science and Technology, the host City of Ekurhuleni, and the Department of Public Enterprises) the Indaba offers an opportunity to boost the country’s industrial sector, especially those that hold the promise of sustainable growth and job creation.Julie Cunningham, marketing manager of the event, says visitors were able to take advantage of the opportunity to engage with powerhouses in the manufacturing sector at the interactive sessions. Panel discussions included the gas industrialisation strategy and what this means for manufacturers and pathways to African development: trade; regional, industrial and integration.Speakers across the various panels included Minister of Trade and Industry Dr Rob Davies, Gauteng Premier David Makhura, City of Ekurhuleni, councillor Mondli Gungubele and the Gautrain management agency CEO Jack van der Merwe.
Boost for black business owners
Engineering News reported the DTI’s black industrialists’ programme will be boosted by R500-million. The department’s acting chief director Takalani Tambani explained the funds were approved for eight selected companies across key manufacturing sectors including plastics, pharmaceuticals, metal fabrication and electro-equipment.He encouraged black business owners to form partnerships and joint ventures with one another to be able to compete in the mainstream economy.
Earn valuable CPD credits
Capitalism is failing Africa. A relatively small number of entrepreneurs have prospered on the continent in the past decade, becoming the face of the “Africa Rising” narrative. But hundreds of millions more have remained poor and unemployed, and lacking electricity, good schools and access to adequate healthcare.
The collective gross domestic product of the continent’s 54 nations is roughly $1.5tn — less than that of Brazil alone, at more than $2tn. Africa, with 70 per cent of the world’s strategic minerals, has about 2 per cent of world trade and 1 per cent of global manufacturing.
Capitalism has been the greatest creator of national wealth in world history, lifting billions out of poverty from Singapore to China, and from South Korea to Brazil. But Africa stands on the cusp of a lost opportunity because its leaders — and those who assess its progress in London, Paris and Washington — are wrongly fixated on the rise and fall of GDP and foreign investment flows, mostly into resource extraction industries and modern shopping malls.
They are in thrall to orthodoxies better suited for more mature economies. African countries need to focus on creating broad-based growth across sectors and social classes in order to promote jobs and labour productivity. This is what improves GDP per capita, which has remained stagnant at less than $3,000 in most African countries. Africa must stop counting malls and measure jobs and their productivity instead.
There is no shortcut to that outcome that can ignore building industrial economies based on manufacturing. African nations must reject the misleading notion that they can join the west by becoming post-industrial societies without having first been industrial ones.
Africa should be striving for self-sufficiency and to become part of the globalised production value chain. This requires the consistent development of skilled labour, linking innovation to industrial production, as well as investment — both domestic and foreign — in infrastructure and manufacturing.
Fossil power has turned out to be a mirage in countries such as Nigeria. They need to switch to a strategy based on renewable energy that is often quicker to install and is increasingly cost-effective.
If countries across Africa are to achieve inclusive economic growth on this basis, another shibboleth must be confronted: the one which decrees that for economies to prosper and grow, governments must get out of the way of business. On the contrary, governments must lead the way, with a firm hand on the wheel and by setting policy that creates an enabling environment for market-based growth that creates jobs.
They must also keep a careful eye on market actors with regulation and oversight that has wider social objectives in view. Markets must work for society and not the other way round. That, surely, is one of the lessons of the global financial crisis.
This is not an argument for a heavy-handed statist approach that would choke productivity and stifle competition. Nevertheless, a strategic role for governments remains essential. The question is whether African governments are capable of making the right policy choices. Ethiopia and Rwanda offer hopeful examples.
African countries need to remove incentives for systemic corruption if the proceeds of growth are to be widely shared. The Nigerian government under President Muhammadu Buhari has rightly withdrawn subsidies and deregulated the importation of refined petroleum products. Next, it should review its policy of maintaining an artificially fixed exchange rate, in the face of depressed income from crude oil. This has bred corrupt arbitrage in currency markets and hurt productivity.
Another key to manufacturing-based, inclusive growth is “smart protectionism” — temporary tariffs that would protect nascent industries from the cheap imports that have rendered African economies uncompetitive on the global stage. For developing countries, such as many of those in Africa, this can be achieved within the rules of the World Trade Organisation.
For capitalism to work for Africa, just as it has for China and much of east Asia, public policymakers must shake off the shackles of orthodoxy.
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – BRANDED Youth and Standard Bank plan to raise R3 million as bursaries for needy students in South Africa.
This is part of broader plans to empower youth in the country.
Through the Standard Bank Youth Expo set for August, the two organisations aim to through sponsorships, exhibitor contributions, donations from the public at large, including private businesses.
Once achieved, the money will be donated to various tertiary institutions, so they can award bursaries to deserving students.
Meanwhile, the Standard Bank Youth Expo is seen as a platform that will provide South African matriculants and university students with the tools to navigate the prevailing volatile economic environment. It set for August 6-7 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.
The expo follows the realization that only about 15 percent of high school students make it to university, and the youth unemployment rate rests at 63,1 percent with the former influencing the latter.
“There’s a greater need for brands and organizations to engage with the youth of South Africa to ensure that they are educated and empowered for the future, we therefore designed The Standard Bank Youth Expo as a platform that will fully cater to this,” Bradley Maseko, Managing Director of Branded Youth, said.
Motlatsi Mkalala, Senior Manager for Youth Customer Financial Solutions at Standard Bank South Africa, said their research and the current political climate show that South African youth are concerned about their future outlook.
“They are afraid of becoming another unemployment statistic, failed entrepreneurs, or being unable to afford their tertiary tuition,” said Mkalala.
“The Standard Bank Youth Expo will show them that this does not have to be the case. The Youth Expo will provide all the resources necessary that can help turn dreams of future success and prosperity into reality.”
At least 20 young entrepreneurs working in the hospitality industry are set to benefit from a deal signed between Sheraton Kampala Hotel and mentorship firms, Youth Business International (YBI) and Enterprise Uganda, which will improve their skills and raise their business profiles.
According to details of the one-year mentorship pact signed on Wednesday, Sheraton will host four selected local youth hotel entrepreneurs or managers every month for hands-on training and experience in handling customers.
Dubbed the Sheraton Enterprise Experience (SEE), trainees will also get managerial tips during the course of practical trainings and internship at the five-star hotel.
Officials are optimistic that lessons from the trainees’ experience shall be transferred to their businesses to boost growth, services and profits.
Speaking after the signing of the deal, Charles Ocici, the executive director of Enterprise Uganda, said the mentorship programme is tailored towards nurturing young entrepreneurs and managers into world-class hospitality industry players. He explained that trainees will have to apply and must be youths below the age of 35 years.
Ocici said such mentorship programmes could empower more Ugandans and cut down on the dominance of Kenyan and South African experts in the local hospitality service sector. He added that Kenyans and South Africans have more experience in the hospitality industry because of their success in the tourism sector.
The mentorship deal was one of the outcomes of the global ‘Promise of Youth Event’ hosted in Kampala from April 5 to 7. The two-day conference, supported by YBI, attracted youth entrepreneurs and managers from Kenya, India, Sweden, Tanzania, the United Kingdom and donor representatives.
Apart from recognizing successful entrepreneurs and sharing experiences, officials discussed the challenge of unemployment.
Uganda is one of the countries grappling with unemployed youth. According to official statistics, 400,000 graduates join the search for jobs every year, yet only 9,000 vacancies are available in the formal public employment sector.
It is against such background that officials urged private sector-led initiatives such as mentoring programmes to encourage youth create their own jobs instead of seeking employment.
Petroleum product supplier Shell Oil Company and the National Empowerment Fund (NEF), under the auspices of the Department of Trade and Industry, on Thursday entered into a cooperative agreement to assist black South Africans wanting to own and operate service stations. Through this initiative, Shell was aiming to ensure that 40% of its service stations were black-owned by 2017. “The energy sector was the first to adopt a transformation charter and it is in line with that trend that Shell’s ground-breaking target of 40% black-owned service stations is coming to life,” said NEF CEO Philisiwe Mthethwa. Shell South Africa chairperson Bonang Mohale noted that Shell’s aim was to to select high-quality brand ambassadors who would receive the necessary training by qualified Shell Retail trainers.
Once the selection and training process was complete, Shell would facilitate a retail site handover, which involved essential mentoring and support in the initial phases of the business operation. “We want to ensure that we do not only comply to the rules and regulations governing the industry, but we also attain leadership status in the transformation area,” he noted. Mthethwa added that, within the NEF’s franchise portfolio of R709-million, service stations ranked as the most successful. The review of the Liquid Fuels Charter – a regulation that provided a framework for empowering black South Africans in the petroleum industry, revealed that one of the major barriers to entry for black entrants in operating and owning service stations was a lack of access to capital. To address this challenge, the Shell and NEF partnership would result in the provision of funding to black retailers with a majority share of no less than 51%. To date, the NEF has invested R300-million in the acquisition of 63 petroleum service stations that were owned and managed by black entrepreneurs countrywide, with these stations supporting 1 920 jobs. The NEF’s total funded portfolio exceeded R7.1-billion, while strategic industrial projects were valued at over R27-billion.
One of the challenges facing South Africa, and the world, is to drastically reduce energy consumption, the cost of producing it and to use alternative sources of energy. That’s where Shalton Mothwa wants to make a difference. He’s a qualified nuclear physicist, which in itself is quite an achievement, but for Shalton that’s just the beginning. He’s also an entrepreneur that’s committed to changing the way we use energy, and in how it can be harnessed from very untraditional sources.
A few days ago Shalton took part in the Red Bull Amaphiko Academy, a workshop that aims to inspire young South African entrepreneurs to collaborate, be creative and share their ideas for a brighter South African future. There he presented his project: the AEON Power Bag.
Mothwa’s AEON Power Bag is a laptop bag that will be able to charge mobile devices by farming the energy from surrounding wifi and telecommunication signals. He says, “It’s about convenience and freedom. You’ll be able to do your thing on mobile devices without having to power your stuff.”
Because the bag draws its charge from wifi signals and cellular towers, Shalton is also hopeful that it will go long way to empowering young children and students in rural areas, allowing them the freedom to connect with learning websites without having to worry about powering their devices. Because there more and more zero-rated (data-cost free) resources being made available to learners across the country, finding enough juice to power their connections is one of the last remaining major barriers to accessing information.
It’s a ground-breaking idea that could revolutionise the way people charge their devices while out and about. But it’s not the onlysmart energy concept that Shalton is involved in, either. His company Epoch Microchips is also developing a new type of energy efficient light too – an LED hybrid lamp that’s powered by a combination of solar energy, radio frequency energy from telecommunications towers and electricity from the grid. The light consumes less than 65% of the energy of the light bulbs recently recommended by Eskom, and the lamp’s cover is made of 85% recycled material, which makes it eco-friendly. It’s powered remotely and wirelessly so remote rural areas and informal settlements will have access to lights regardless of load-shedding or infrastructure issues.
The 28-year-old scientific entrepreneur, who hails the North West Province, says he is one month away from finalising the prototype of the AEON Laptop Bag, but will still need R900 000 in funding before we’ll see this product on the shelves. Given the excitement the AEON Bag is generating around the world, one can only hope this investment support isn’t too far away. Perhaps Elon Musk will recognise a kindred spirit and give Shalton’s project a welcome kickstart?
Lagos – MTN, the mobile network operator, and Jumia, Nigeria’s leading online shopping site, have partnered for a first-of-its-kind competition that is envisaged to build a stronger and more sustainable business environment across Africa.
Launched on Tuesday morning, the pan-African competition brings together over 1 000 entrepreneurs, students and investors, to collaborate on ways to amplify and consolidate the continent’s entrepreneurs.
Targeting more than 60 universities in 13 countries across Africa, the competition will challenge students to develop a unique digital application or smart solution that would ill solve tangible problems faced on the continent.
MTN’s Group Chief Digital Officer, Herman Singh, said the Entrepreneurship Challenge was aligned to MTN’s own entrepreneurial culture and history as well as our values as a business.
“We believe inspiration of new business leaders in Africa and their enablement to success, will be key drivers for the future rapid evolution of a broader start-up culture on the continent.
This is an environment already teeming with excellent potential and we hope to assist in accelerating its further growth and to raise MTN’s role in creating new businesses in Africa,” said Singh.
Bankole Cardoso, Head of Communications at Jumia, said the competition would contribute to building a stronger and more sustainable business environment across Africa.
“Its main goal is to boost and fuel African entrepreneurship by enabling young and smart entrepreneurs to kick off with their own projects. The key for us is to give full and adapted support to young talents, from funding to mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs,” Cardoso said.
The winner of the MTN Entrepreneurship Challenge powered by Jumia will win a cash prize of US$25 000 towards their start-up, and will also benefit from a yearlong partnership with Jumia.
The winner will also have access to a Facebook Start Program to the value of $15 000, which includes tools and services needed to build mobile applications.
In addition, they will have the opportunity to work from the MTN Solution Space at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business.
The two runners-up will each receive $5 000 towards their projects.
Applications for the first round of the multi-phased competition are open from today and will close on March 27.
The finalists will be announced on April 16.
As many African countries grapple with economic uncertainties, resulting in increasing rate of unemployment, business leaders believe that the sure way to reverse the ugly trend is to train future entrepreneurs that will help leapfrog the continent through enterprise and innovation. David Audu reports on Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, concept as one of the components of such social enterprise initiatives.
As global unemployment rate soars, with the International Labour Organisation, ILO, projecting that an estimated 212 million people may be jobless by 2019, most countries are adopting remedial policy measures to avert the looming crisis and by so doing, mitigating the socio-economic damages to their economies.
Conscious of the negative effects of burgeoning unemployment in their domains, political leaders, businessmen and other development experts are consensual in their views that entrepreneurship, particularly among the youth population, remain the key to guaranteeing the future of the countries and people and laying enduring foundation for their real social, economic and political transformation. They agreed that the only way to achieve this lofty dream is to increase the number of entrepreneurs so as to minimise the increasing rush for formal, white collar jobs by young school leavers and giving them the right orientation about entrepreneurship and its potential for their self fulfilment. Besides, the new emphasis on entrepreneurship development assumes that entrepreneurs will in turn provide employment for others along the value chain. It has also become a known fact that small and medium enterprises are globally regarded as the backbone of any economy. According to experts, when given adequate support, SMEs can spur significant economic growth.
According to the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, UNIDO, SMEs have a significant role to play in economic development. According to UNIDO, SMEs form the backbone of the private sector; make up over 90 per cent of enterprises in the world and account for 50 to 60 per cent of employment. “They also play an important role in generating employment and poverty alleviation”, It said. The National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, put the total number of SMEs in Nigeria at over 17 million. However, because of some challenges in the economy, a lot of SME operators in the country fi nd it very difficult to effectively play their role. Some of these constraints include competition, infrastructure, taxes, accounting, management, marketing, economic, planning and finance. Also, poor economic conditions, which also imply poor finance and inadequate infrastructure, have been identified as the most crucial limiting factors. Again, poor access to finance at relatively cheap cost is also one of the most crucial problems hindering SMEs to have significant contribution to national output in Nigeria.
There is no doubt that Nigeria as a nation, since attaining independence in 1960 has tried out various economic policies in a bid to achieve meaningful economic development. Most of these policies, some analysts say, are centrally planned and government dominated. The resultant impact of this excessive government domination of the economy left much to be desired leading to massive divestment in the 1990’s by the government. This was done under the economic policy of “privatisation and commercialisation”. The shift of emphasis thus created a challenge of building capable, dynamic and resourceful entrepreneurs to take the baton of economic revitalisation from government. These entrepreneurs incidentally have to fulfi l this onerous task through the establishment of business that could mainly be classified as small and medium scale in nature. However, over the years the task of creating a sustainable environment for SMEs to thrive was a difficult one, and for obvious reasons. One, the dwindling state of the economy has made it difficult for people to save and thereby little capital accumulation for investment. Further, the private sector was long undeveloped making experienced entrepreneur and small business managers scarce. Today, there is a growing consensus among policy makers, academia, industrialists and economic planners, that the development of local entrepreneur and encouragement of the establishment of small and medium scale business is the only penance to our economic growth. With this reality in view, a number of private organisations and individuals have taken it upon themselves to provide the necessary impetus to encourage young people to embrace entrepreneurship.
One current example among others is the chairman of Heirs Holding Mr. Tony Elumelu whose foundation, Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme, TEEP, which in its current drive towards this end has earmarked about $100m as grants to about 1000 young people from Nigeria and other African countries to train and mentor in various entrepreneurship projects. According to Elumelu, “African destiny lies with us African to realise”. The project, though with an African wide focus, has about 50 per cent participants coming from Nigeria. Launched in December 2014, the TEEP project is a $100m initiative to discover and support 10,000 African entrepreneurs over the next decade, with a target of creating one million new jobs and $10bn in additional gross domestic product contribution to African economy by the end of the programme. Economic analysts have described the programme as the first of such initiative to be launched by an African philanthropic organisation targeting the entrepreneurial space designed to empower the next generation of Africans entrepreneurs. Areas of focus by the programme include agriculture with 30 per cent participants; commerce and retail have nine per cent, while education and training have equally nine per cent each respectively.
Other areas include ICT, eight per cent, manufacturing, eight per cent, while healthcare and fashion have five and four per cent each. Energy, power and construction have three per cent; waste management, transportation, financial services, tourism and hospitality have two per cent each. While the programme covered 51 African countries, 49 per cent are from Nigeria followed by Kenya with 16 per cent; Uganda, four per cent; Ghana 3.6 per cent and South Africa with 3.2 per cent. At the TEEP boot camp in Otta, Ogun State last year attended by dignitaries and government officials, the need to harness Africa potentials through creating conducive environment and empowerment for Africa entrepreneurs to thrive was highlighted. Vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, underlined the need for African leaders to pay attention to developing entrepreneurs to move the continent forward. Restating the plight of Africa as a continent, which he stand in the throes of poverty and disease, and having the highest ratio of unemployment, and therefore the need for concerted efforts to pull it out, adding that entrepreneurship and handwork are the instrument of growth and development. He enjoined all to embrace integrity, rule of law, transparency and self discipline to entrench enduring business ethics in Nigeria and on the continent in generals. He charged the aspiring entrepreneurs to embrace the spirit of trust, integrity, and consistency, reminding that enduring success comes from respect for the rule of law and commitment to set objectives He commended the Heirs Holdings for initiating the programme, noting that “economies cannot be developed without social entrepreneurs like Tony Elumelu”.
He said Elumelu invoked the daring spirit successful enterprise by investing substantially in the ideas of entrepreneurship of the young Africans. By doing this he is shaping the future of the continent as he empower them to embrace entrepreneur to enable them direct the economic affairs of the continent in the coming years. He said government on its part will continue to provide enabling environment for entrepreneurs to thrive Acting United States Consul General, DI Gilbert likened the gathering to African Union meeting in Nigeria and described it as the ‘future Africa’. She said it is education that gives people the working tool that will make them productive. Asking how we can do things differently? She charged the beneficiaries to look for a creative new way of doing things to add value to society.
To African leaders and business men, she reminded them of the potentials that lie in Africa. “With 30 per cent of your population under 30, the energy is there and therefore the need for you to get going through right economic initiatives such what the Elumelu foundation has done”. Guest of the occasion, Prime Minister of the Republic of Benin, Lionel Zinzou, lauded the initiative while describing every effort to boost entrepreneur in Africa as the urgent thing the continent requires for growth and development. He said every country in Africa and indeed Africa as a whole need innovative idea which young talents who are beneficiaries of the TEEP project will bring Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai who was at the event urged the beneficiaries of the programme to convert their ideas into work that will make Africa proud. Speaking on what government can do to encourage entrepreneurs, he said only government through workable policies and good legislation can provide the level of trust that is required for successful entrepreneurship.
“Nothing is possible without a functional government. No matter how rich you are, without a minimal functional government to provide the basics such as road, power and other infrastructure you are lost.” He therefore urged the federal government on the need “to take a pragmatic approach to policy redemption and investment in Africa”. He noted that Africa with it large population stands at a great advantage if it leverage on the huge demographic dividend but will be a disaster if it fail to do so, while urging African political leaders to boost their economies through appropriate policies and legislation that will encourage entrepreneurship. Managing director Bank of Industries, BOI, Mr. Rasheed Olaoluwa, noted the impact the programme will have on the continent and Nigeria in particular. He said the bank will work with the candidate to help them evolve successful business that will enable them be employers of labour in the future. Explaining further his vision for Africa’s entrepreneurship project, Elumelu noted that only the present Africans can develop the continent for the future, stressing that “Africa needs multiple successful private sector business to make its mark on the world stage”. Advising the young entrepreneurs, Elumelu urged them to imbibe the spirit of hard work, discipline and the need to think long term in their vision. The entrepreneurs would receive $5000 seed capital each to enable them start their dream projects.
From a dusty warehouse on a working dry dock to a next generation, multi-use innovation hub designed to showcase and enable solutions to South African and African opportunities, the V&A Waterfront’s Workshop17, which officially launched today, is set to lift the veil on African tech and innovation.
The V&A Waterfront has long recognised the importance of the shared economy, and Workshop17 was born of the desire to support start-ups and experienced companies, profit and non-profit entities, and big and small initiatives, in their efforts to create a better future. It will be managed on behalf of the V&A Waterfront by OPEN, a co-working space operator and a partner in the initiative.
Housed on the upper level of the Watershed, the newly launched Workshop17 is home to over 130 tenants so far. These resident member businesses, start-ups and freelancers will all share a collaborative working environment as they work to develop their businesses, products and ideas in the long-term.
With the fastest internet available, eight fully-equipped meeting, teaching and function rooms, and ‘creative spaces’ for idea generation, creative brainstorming, and relaxing – all with incredible views over the dry dock towards Table Mountain – the Workshop17 space has been carefully designed to accommodate its vision of collaboration and modern working.
“Given the V&A Waterfront’s location and diverse visitorship, the Workshop17 platform will provide small entities with the best opportunities,” said David Green, CEO of the V&A Waterfront.
“Workshop17 was a seed of an idea six years ago when we recognised that we could use our resources to foster small business through an innovation hub. Today, the result is a working space with a clear vision that has a very different kind of potential that extends far beyond the walls of Workshop17. We look forward to seeing cutting-edge ideas, plans, developments and solutions that we are certain will come out of this revitalised space.”
Workshop17 has been designed to facilitate a community of talented, passionate and diverse people learning and working together to create new solutions to big and small problems, and will allow interaction between the public, entrepreneurs, innovators and designers, as well as between disciplines, sectors and cultures in its endeavours.
This new innovation hub will have a strong technology and entrepreneurial focus, which is clearly demonstrated among the partners on board for the initiative. Nigerian-born, US-based Julius Akinyemi is a founding member of the Advisory Board of Workshop17, bringing both passion for and experience in entrepreneurship to Workshop17. Based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States and the former Global Director of Emerging Technologies for PepsiCo Inc., Akinyemi will also be the hub’s first Entrepreneur in Residence.
The space itself is home to a coding academy and a growing number of small businesses, many of whom are tech-orientated, all focused on supporting its community of diverse members and associated companies.
“The V&A Waterfront’s investment in Workshop17 is intended for positive social impact, and illustrative of our goal of always investing in a responsible, impactful manner. This is an investment in people and ideas, and not one focused entirely on commercial return,” said Green.
Accelerating technology at Workshop17
The V&A Waterfront has made a strategic decision to support the creation of a tech cluster within Workshop17 to accelerate innovative products that will capitalise on the market opportunities. It also creates a platform to promote the success and rapid growth of local tech start-ups that often go unnoticed by the media.
mLab, Silicon Cape and codeX are key residents of Workshop17, specifically chosen by the V&A Waterfront because their programmes create a highly inclusive, innovative and productive environment, with a focus on growing existing and new technology businesses and creating new skills in the field of technology, all for positive social and economic impact.
“The Waterfront’s support enables us to provide a free platform for emerging coders and entrepreneurs who are often excluded from the buzzing tech ecosystem purely because they are based in townships and lower income communities. Workshop17 will create a truly inclusive environment for this talent to thrive,” said Derrick Kotze, CEO of mLab Southern Africa.
With financial support of the V&A Waterfront, this technology cluster will work to promote and build an entrepreneurial and tech ecosystem in Cape Town and ensure access to Workshop17 for talented, emerging coders and entrepreneurs. It will function as complementary to other Workshop17 events and community activities.