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InnoTech Set To Boost More Tech Start-Ups This Year

Applications are now open for the 2016 Telkom FutureMakers InnoTech intake, starting in June 2016.

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InnoTech, the highly successful incubator programme for ICT start-ups in Telkom’s Cape Town FutureHub, is in its second year at the Woodstock Bandwidth Barn and is looking to turbo-charge the next intake of applicants into the market place.

Says Michelle Matthews, Head of ED and Innovation at the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), “This programme is geared towards entrepreneurially minded developers and tech savvy entrepreneurs. What they will find is in-depth business support that will help them reach product viability, backed with a sound business skill-set that will keep them successful after launch. We also provide these entrepreneurs with the infrastructure and connectivity they need to support them while they develop their idea into a market-ready product.”

The Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), based in the Woodstock Bandwidth Barn, has a legacy of successful entrepreneurs graduating through its various programmes, and InnoTech is its flagship ‘germinator’ programme, taking businesses ‘from concept to market’.

Related: Attention Black Entrepreneurs: Start-Up Funding From Government Grants & Funds

InnoTech is funded by Telkom FutureMakers, an enterprise development programme that aims to deliver real value by supporting small business development and growth in South Africa, while creating jobs and contributing to technology uptake through increased use of technology solutions by small businesses.

The InnoTech programme takes entrepreneurs at the concept or early prototype stages of their product into an eight-week ‘Pitch Deck Journey’, from which half are selected to continue into a 12-week process receiving business and technical support to launch an MVP into the market.

“Fifteen black-owned businesses came through the programme in 2015,” continues Matthews, “arriving with raw ideas that have become pitchable products. InnoTech contributes to CiTi’s mandate to support tech-based entrepreneurs in Cape Town, foster innovation and create a vibrant, thriving ecosystem in the IT and tech space.”

InnoTech boasts inspiring stories such as Nathier Abrahams’ Tutorfy. Abrahams developed a tutor app due to the rising demand from parents for qualified tutors for their children.

“I knew there was a huge market for parents to source reputable tutors who have been screened and vetted, and who have the right credentials, and for university students who need to supplement their income through tutoring. The website makes all of this possible, and now the input from FutureMakers InnoTech means my business can go to the next level,” says Abrahams.

“Not only is the access to content and mentorship beneficial to growing my business and brand, but the office space creates networking opportunities with other start-ups, and keeps me focused on the task at hand. The brain thinks differently in an office than it does while working at home.”

Says Ian Merrington, CEO of CiTi, “We are thrilled at the continued success this incubator programme is showing. We are driven to see tech improve the lives of ordinary people across all walks of life. The need to think out of the box to create tech solutions for the very real challenges facing education, government and healthcare make South Africa a hot house for solutions-driven tech development. I get excited when I see how our support brings these dreams and solutions to life.”

Coders and developers who are developing a B2B solution of any type, an e-commerce platform, gaming and media, or fintech, healthtech, edtech and govtech can apply to join this robust and prestigious programme to take them from ‘concept to market’.

Related: New Ways SMEs Can Find Funding

“It’s not for those who pursue growth half-heartedly,” says Dlova (21) and Mtshokotsha (22), entrepreneurs from Gugulethu who developed MuniWard, an app designed to help ward councillors better track requests and complaints from the community.

“It’s a 10-hour a week commitment that will stretch you to your limits through an MVP boot camp and more, but will see you grow like never before through personal business mentorship and hearing how other successful local entrepreneurs got it right.”

“There’s no other place in Cape Town where you will find a more robust, hard-working programme for entrepreneurs in ICT,” says Matthews, “We can’t wait to see the next intake of entrepreneurs flourish in InnoTech.”

Tech or tech-enabled businesses that are 51% black-owned and based in Cape Town can find out more and apply at: http://www.citi.org.za/innotech/

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Fintech Hackathon To Support South Africa’s Entrepreneurs

Xero hosts South African developer technology challenge – and appoints a new General Country Manager.

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 Xero, the global leader in online accounting software has today launched a national competition, to put South Africa’s growing fintech industry firmly on the map. To mark the start of the developer technology challenge, Xero has also announced the appointment of Colin Timmis as Country Manager for South Africa, to take Xero forward.

Launched with Amazon Web Services, the virtual hackathon will enable the region’s technology entrepreneurs to compete with other forward thinking developers on a global scale. To take part, they need to develop an app that can sit within the Xero’s global ecosystem of over 600 apps.

As announced last night at an exclusive event in Johannesburg, the winner will receive R62,720 and the opportunity to attend and exhibit their app at Xerocon the world’s largest conference for over 3,000 accountants and bookkeepers, taking place in London in November.

Related: How The SA Government Can Help Small Businesses Thrive

Xero, which first launched in South Africa in May 2016, is now one of the fastest growing software companies globally, with 1.4 million subscribers around the world. In South Africa, the company is currently supporting tens of thousands of local small businesses, and a substantial support network of accountants. The competition marks the first in a series of Xero-led initiatives created for the South African tech community, as it continues to help more businesses and their advisors thrive.

“Since Xero first set foot in South Africa, I’ve been really impressed by the strong entrepreneurial spirit amongst the small business community. It’s really important that they are supported in the right way; and given space to pursue their best ideas and to grow. That’s why it’s time to open up our global developer competition to a South African audience. Those that have won it elsewhere have instantly been able to propel their business, and compete at a global scale,” said Gary Turner, Managing Director, Xero EMEA.

To support its continued growth in South Africa, Xero has promoted Colin Timmis, to Country Manager. Previously Head of Accounting at Xero SA, he brings a wealth of experience and skill to his new role. Before arriving at Xero, Colin founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice, Real Time Accounting, in 2011 – becoming Xero’s first Global Gold Partner in 2013, and its third fastest growing partner in the global territory by 2014.

“With over 12 years of experience in the accounting profession, promoting Colin to Country Manager will accelerate adoption of Xero in South Africa.” said Gary Turner: “His experience in cloud accounting, software implementation, development, integration and best practice is peerless. He’s already done great work for us during our market entry phase and I can’t wait to see how together we can help more and more South African small businesses realise the benefits of cloud-based accounting.”

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Entrepreneur Today

Breaking Down Borders – Top Considerations For SMEs Expanding Into Africa

In light of Africa Day on the 25th of May, more South African small and medium enterprise (SME) owners should be encouraged to look at how they could expand their operations into the rest of the continent.

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In light of Africa Day on the 25th of May, more South African small and medium enterprise (SME) owners should be encouraged to look at how they could expand their operations into the rest of the continent.

This is according to Mark Paper, Chief Operating Officer at Business Partners International (BUSINESS/PARTNERS), who says that Africa has for long been regarded as a region with untapped economic opportunity. “The African Development Bank1 reports that the economic growth in Africa is set to accelerate to 4.1% over the course of 2018 and 2019, which can potentially yield benefits for SMEs.”

Paper points out that entrepreneurs should however firstly consider that each of Africa’s 54 countries represents a unique market with differing challenges and intricacies for doing business.

“The various economies, laws, languages and cultures need to be thoroughly assessed as part of the entrepreneur’s expansion plan, which should be structured around the target region’s strengths, weaknesses, potential opportunities and threats.”

Related: Expansion Funding Options For Your Growing Business

He says that once the enterprise is ready to start operations in a specific region, the entrepreneur needs to ensure that the regulatory requirements of the region are adhered to.  “It is crucial to conduct due diligence and understand all relevant regulations. Most of the companies that make mistakes during this phase find themselves facing massive fines or potentially devastating legal action further down the line.”

According to Paper, the information that should be at the entrepreneur’s fingertips include the required permits, business and property registration processes, credit requirements, tax legislation, labour market regulations, and local content requirements.

He adds that the entrepreneur should also know which laws are in place to protect foreign investors. “Developing robust contracts and using local attorneys to ensure that contracts can be enforced under local laws is therefore imperative.”

Next, Paper says that it is essential to have a strong local presence, knowledge of the local market, and an understanding of customer expectations. “Employing workers from the region can potentially be one of the best ways to support the company’s operations. It will not only benefit the business and its reputation, but the local economy too.”

He notes that finding the right employees, creating cohesive teams and implementing skills training within the organisation relies heavily on understanding the culture of the region, and being able to effectively work around the potential language barriers. “It could help to consult local human resources firms and hiring agencies with strong track records in the region.”

Another point for entrepreneurs to consider, is whether the country has reliable electricity supply, says Paper.

“Electricity supply continues to be a challenge in various countries, and there are many regions that only receive electricity from their national power grids for a few hours per day. Where necessary, the entrepreneur will need to budget for the installation of generators, or even consider signing contracts with mobile fast-track power suppliers who can operate and maintain their own generators on the business’s property.”

Related: Thinking Of Cross-Border Expansion? Consider This First

While entrepreneurs need to consider a number of aspects when expanding across borders, he adds that the rewards for getting it correct are significant, and that the perceived challenges should not deter entrepreneurs from taking the leap, rather serving as a reminder of the amount of research that should be conducted beforehand.”

“Africa is open for business. All it takes is enough drive, passion and perseverance to tap into its growing markets,” Paper concludes.

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President Ramaphosa To Address SA’s Biggest Board Meeting, The Directors Event

President Cyril Ramaphosa will be delivering a keynote address at The Directors event on 8 June 2018, at the Sandton Convention Centre.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa will be delivering the keynote address at South Africa’s biggest board meeting, The Directors Event, which will take place at the Sandton Convention Centre on 8 June 2018.  Dr Jabu Mabuza, Chairman of Business Leadership South Africa will deliver this year’s Chairman’s Report.

Now in its fourth year, The Directors Event invites industry leaders to unpack three issues of national importance and discuss solutions in a public forum, moderated by highly-respected media personalities.

Youth employment & entrepreneurship, the use of technology to promote inclusive growth, and our political economy will be hot topics in this year’s highly focussed discussion programme which attracts participation from the country’s most prominent business and government leaders, and an audience of 300 ‘board member’ delegates.

“We are honoured to have President Ramaphosa address this important gathering of some of the top minds in South Africa. We invited him as a response to the call he made during his maiden State of the Nation Address earlier this year, calling on all South Africans, in their small corners, to help develop this country. We believe, strongly, that corporate South Africa has a massive role to play and we are very excited that everyone seems to have accepted the President Ramaphosa’s “Thuma Mina” call,” says Bongani Siqoko, editor of the Sunday Times.

Nontokozo Madonsela, Chief Marketing Officer of MMI, the JSE listed holding company for Momentum, Metropolitan and other financial services providers says, “We are incredibly honoured and excited that President Cyril Ramaphosa will be delivering the keynote address at this year’s Biggest Board Meeting. Over the past few months, we have experienced a wave of change in the country that has brought with it much needed confidence in what we can achieve. As a company with deep roots in South Africa serving a broad spectrum of citizens and businesses, we are heeding the President’s call to lend a hand in addressing our challenges. We are saying #CountUsIn, we want to be there. We believe this platform creates a space where we can have constructive dialogue and come up with concrete solutions that can positively contribute to improving the state our country”.

Related: President Ramaphosa’s Support Of Entrepreneurs And SMEs In SONA Had Us Cheering

President Ramaphosa will be the highest ranking government official to address The Directors Event with his keynote message.  Previous keynote speakers at The Directors Event have included Caroline Galvan (Lead Economist & Editor: Africa Competitiveness Report for the World Economic Forum), and Mcebisi Jonas (Former Deputy Minister of Finance).

Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, Minister of Science & Technology, and Enoch Godongwana, Chairperson of the ANC sub-committee on Economic Transformation will also be representing the perspectives of Government and the governing party during the round-table discussions at this year’s event.


The Directors Event programme is tailored for corporates, SMEs, educators, and non-profit organisations who are serious about turning South Africa’s socio-economic crisis around.

The Directors Event will take place at the Sandton Convention Centre on 8 June 2018.  To view the 2018 agenda, speaker profiles, or to book tickets: www.thedirectorsevent.co.za 

The Directors Event brought to you by the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies and MMI Holdings Limited, is supported by partners Mancosa (GSB), the Institute of Directors (IoD SA), and Greymatter & Finch.

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