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Knowledge Crucible: Thembinkosi Semwayo

An academic develops a solution that improves information access

Juliet Pitman

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Thembinkosi Semwayo of Knowledge Cruciable

It was John Naisbitt who so succinctly summarised the challenge caused by the internet’s information overload. He described it as “drowning in information but starved of knowledge” and, when you think about it, that’s exactly the situation that the glut of information on the internet has brought about.

The problem is that there’s simply too much information to access in any meaningful way. Typing the words ‘business coaching’ into Google, for example, yields no fewer than 6,6 million results.

But the problem is not just confined to the internet. Businesses, particularly those that deal with vast quantities of information such as law firms, also battle with information overload and the challenge of gaining easy and meaningful access.

But now, thanks to Cape Town-based academic-turned-entrepreneur, there may be an easier way of managing information overload. Thembinkosi Semwayo is the CEO of Knowledge Crucible, a company that specialises in providing data modelling, business mapping and technological solutions to companies who need to access important information quickly and efficiently.

It’s an intricate, complex system but Semwayo highlights the key points: “We go into a company and conduct an analysis of what information is most important and relevant to them. Based on this analysis we identify specific key terms that pertain to that company and its business and then ‘tag’ these on their documents using something called electronic highlighting.

They can conduct a search of all their documents in a range of different formats, using these key terms.” But Knowledge Crucible’s solution goes a step further than ordinary search solutions. By cross-indexing the key terms, and making strategic use of synonyms as well as the key terms themselves, it is able to generate more refined search results that are contextualised within the business.

The concept developed out of Semwayo’s PhD research in knowledge engineering at the University of Cape Town. “I presented a paper on it in Spain during 2002 and many of the delegates there were from corporate companies.

They expressed interest in the commercialisation of the concept,” he explains. The company was formed when Semwayo presented the idea to the Cape Information Technology Initiative (CITI) which provided him with the grant necessary to get the enterprise off the ground.

“The grant meant we had access to office space, telephones, broadband internet and the like for a period of nine months. CITI covered 100% of these costs for the first three months, then 75%, and so on until the nine month period was up,” he explains.

The company also received assistance from Cape Venture Partners, a business acceleration, mentoring and training company for technology start-ups. “They gave us valuable entrepreneurship training and mentorship and helped us with financial and business management skills as part of our incubation programme. It was extremely useful.”.

Semwayo says the company’s biggest challenge has been getting the message about his solution out there and educating potential customers. “Initially we had a tough time explaining to customers how we could help their businesses but it has become easier as we’ve implemented the solution in various clients’ companies.

We’ve done work for the Southern African Development Committee, the Competition Commission and various government departments. They all have vast quantities of information they need to access quickly and once they realised how we could help them, word spread.

So we’ve grown fairly rapidly but thankfully we got some big contracts early on which means the company has carried itself.”Looking to the future, he’d like to see Knowledge Crucible’s solutions break into the SMB market.

“There is a world-wide trend towards making search of and access to information easier – doing so is becoming critical to businesses, including the small to medium ones. It’s a rapidly growing technology field and we’re right at the forefront,” he says. Contact: +27 21 409 7084, www.kcrucible.co.za

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton

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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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27 Of The Richest People In South Africa

Here are 27 of South Africa’s richest people, but how did they achieve this level of wealth? Find out here.

Nicole Crampton

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Learn the secrets of SA’s most successful business people, here is the list of the 27 richest people in South Africa:

In a world with growing entrepreneurship success stories, victory is often measured in terms of money. The feat of achieving a place on this list is, however, years of hard work, determination and persistence. “One has to set high standards… I can never be happy with mediocre performance,” advises Patrice Motsepe.

From the individuals that made the 27 of the richest people in South Africa list, actual entrepreneurs and self-made business people dominate the list; while those who inherited their fortunes have gone on to do even bigger and better things with their wealth. Over the years, some have slipped off the list, while others continue to climb higher and higher each year.

  1. Elisabeth Bradley
  2. Sharon Wapnick
  3. Bridgette Radebe
  4. Irene Charnley
  5. Wendy Ackerman
  6. Paul Harris
  7. Wendy Appelbaum
  8. Mark Shuttleworth
  9. Desmond Sacco
  10. Giovanni Ravazzotti
  11. Markus Jooste
  12. Gus Attridge
  13. Gerrit Thomas Ferreira
  14. Cyril Ramaphosa
  15. Adrian Gore
  16. Raymond Ackerman
  17. Michiel Le Roux
  18. Lauritz Dippenaar
  19. Jannie Mouton
  20. Stephen Saad
  21. Patrice Motsepe
  22. Allan Gray
  23. Koos Bekker
  24. Ivan Glasenberg
  25. Christoffel Wiese
  26. Johann Rupert
  27. Nicky Oppenheimer
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Watch List: 50 Top SA Black Entrepreneurs To Watch

South Africa needs more entrepreneurs to build businesses that can make a positive impact on the economy. These up-and-coming black entrepreneurs are showing how it can be done.

Nicole Crampton

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Early-stage South African entrepreneurial activity is at an all-time high of 11%, according to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, and entrepreneurial intentions have also increased to 11.7%. With both activity and intentions growing significantly year-on-year, there are more businesses opening up around South Africa than ever before.

The increase in entrepreneurship has seen the rise of more black entrepreneurs across numerous sectors. From beauty brands to legal services and even tech start-ups, these are 50 top black entrepreneurs to watch:

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