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Young Black, Female Owned Businesses On The Fast Track To Success

AccelerateHer programme concludes with lasting impact.

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The inaugural Seed Academy/WDB AccelerateHer programme, a three-month business accelerator for female entrepreneurs, sponsored by Shell Downstream South Africa concluded by notching up a string of successes for young black female owned businesses.

The fully-funded AccelerateHer programme provided 25 black female entrepreneurs with an intensive programme including developmental workshops, high impact business development support and mentoring from industry specialists and experienced entrepreneurs to fast track their development.

Seed Engine CEO, Donna Rachelson notes that the rigorous 90-day programme has seen an impressive number of early successes for participating entrepreneurs with four successfully pitching to new clients, three increasing turnovers and expanding their client base, while one business secured a contract with a world-leading diamond company and a leading glass manufacturer.

Related: 10 Dynamic Black Entrepreneurs

Another participant in the programme received a proposal request from a major African food retailer, two fledgling businesses have since become industry association members and a further two successfully secured the required industry licenses vital to their continued operations.

“The strength of the AccelerateHer programme is that it can be customised for women entrepreneurs at all stages of development from the initial ideation phase, to enterprise development and supplier development,” explains Rachelson. 

In addition, the AccelerateHer programme creates a pipeline for the WDB Seed Fund, an impact fund that provides funding to growth stage businesses with a particular focus on black women and youth owned businesses.

Through the inaugural programme, one business has been selected to be put forward to the Fund. Faith Khanyile, CEO of WDB Investment Holdings says AccelerateHer is a great vehicle for WDB to achieve its objective of advancing female entrepreneurship.

“Through AccelerateHer we are able to create a pipeline not just for the WDB Fund to fund some of these outstanding entrepreneurs but also benefit the economy as a whole,” says Khanyile. 

Rachelson adds that psycho-social problems of female entrepreneurs are well-known and South Africa is no different. She says much more needs to be done to provide holistic financial and non-financial support to enable the growth and development of female entrepreneurs as a matter of urgency.

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

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“Black women business owners still face immense obstacles and it’s these women that hold the key to unlocking economic growth in the country and more needs to be done to foster female entrepreneurs.” This is just one of the reasons why this specific AccelerateHer was developed according to Rachelson:

“We wanted to look for black, female entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 35 with a business idea aligned to Shell’s value chain. They had to be worthy participants in the ideation phase that would like to see their idea become a registered business within 90 days. The business case had to be a solvable problem with a viable solution and a solid business plan. The flare, quality and aptitude of the founder was also taken into account.” 

Social Investment Manager at Shell South Africa, Ntobeko Mogadime explains that Shell was a proud sponsor of AccelerateHer because of its strong focus on women entrepreneurs as only one in three South African businesses are owned and run by women.

“I’m impressed with the relationships we’ve formed in a relatively short space of time and the passion and dedication exhibited by all involved and we look forward to continuing these relationships to make sure we help more women in the country succeed in starting and sustaining viable businesses,” she says.

Rachelson says that throughout the high-impact 90-day programme all entrepreneurs showed incredible determination, tenacity and dedication. “Nurturing great business ideas to full fruition is just one aspect of the programme. The other vitally important outcome is keeping the spirit of black women entrepreneurs alive and thriving in our communities and providing the ongoing support needed for success which will make a true and lasting impact on South Africa’s economy.”  

Related: Enterprise Development Programmes For Black Entrepreneurs

She says that the programme drew over 900 entries, 400 of which came from other African countries: “Producing tangible results is first and foremost, and the AccelerateHer programme for Shell has generated some excellent results. The ethos of this programme is to take ideas and develop them into viable businesses. AcceleratorHer has very successfully, in only 90 days, developed real business opportunities.” 

The inaugural AccelerateHer also concluded with the announcement of its top achievers. Geneva Kuypers of Geneva Projects & Supplies was awarded R 50 000 towards her aspiring business sponsored by WDB Investment Holdings.

The winner was joined by runners-up Lelo Rammitloa of Got Paper and Siphumelele Shabalala owner of Krypton Industrial Services who each received R 25 000 in funding from Shell to elevate their businesses towards sustainable growth.

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The Innovator Trust And Citi Are Searching For Black-Owned Smes Who Are Ready For Growth

The Innovator Trust, an enterprise development organisation, and the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), Africa’s oldest incubator, are calling on Cape Town-based growth-stage ICT entrepreneurs to join the intensive 2-year enterprise development programme.

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The ICT sector has gone from strength to strength and is one of the fastest-growing industries on the African continent. Yet African entrepreneurs are still finding it a difficult business landscape to navigate. That is why The Innovator Trust and CiTi, through exposure, training and mentorship, now aim to equip entrepreneurs and businesses in the sector with tools that will keep them on track, assist them to achieve their goals and create tech leaders of the future.

ICT entrepreneurs in need of mentorship, skills development and business support who have been operating for more than 2 years and are fiercely committed to growing their business, can now apply to the prestigious 2-year Innovator Trust programme, co-developed and run by CiTi at the Woodstock Bandwidth Barn and remotely in Cape Town. Applications close on 22 February and the selected candidates will be announced on 4 March.

The Innovator Trust programme aims to support the: increase annual turnover, equip businesses with the necessary accreditation to remove red tape, as well as increase profitability and number of employees. Get ready to move the dial on your business.

Celebrating its 20th year of supporting entrepreneurs, CiTi currently runs a number of incubation programmes from idea to growth stage. After a very successful first cohort of the programme, completed in 2018, CiTi confirmed a second collaboration with the Innovator Trust to support further Cape Town businesses over the next two years. Applicants need to be in “ICT”, but this has included a broad range of focusses in the past, from IT recruitment, network security to cabling service provider and software solutions.

Related: Watch List: 50 Top SA Black Entrepreneurs To Watch

The programme, designed by CiTi and Innovator Trust, is not to be taken lightly. Monthly training, mentorship sessions with industry experts, and a strong focus on technical improvements means a substantial time and focus commitment by the entrepreneur. But this intensive design enables significant business progression over the two years.

 “Once the entrepreneurs who take part in our Enterprise Development programmes become more established, they turn their focus to growth. This accelerator is especially for entrepreneurs who’ve created businesses with high-growth potential and provides them with the skills to scale at speed and responsibly,” says Tashline Jooste, CEO of the Innovator Trust.

Cape Town was recently confirmed as the Tech Hub of Africa, by an Endeavor Insight Report commissioned by CiTi and partners, presenting growing opportunities for those businesses serious about growth, and with the right support.

“I believe strongly that ICT entrepreneurs are going to be critical to South Africa’s economic growth, which is why we need to focus on equipping these businesses with the skills they need to grow, create jobs and stimulate our economy,” adds Jooste.

In order to be considered for the programme, prospective applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • A company defined in South Africa as an SMME, QSE or EME;
  • Must be operational and trading for two or more years;
  • The business should be at least 51% black-owned;
  • A minimum Level 1 – 4 BBBEE status according to the DTI or ICT Codes;
  • The business must be a registered company with key focus in ICT and be based in Cape Town and surrounding areas.

In addition, applicants will need to supply copies of their company registration, company profile, and annual financial statements along with their BEE certificate and IDs with their applications.

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

“We had a fantastic experience on the Innovator Trust programme, perhaps most beneficial was the advice and mentorship on our financial management, up-skilling of our team, and establishing a 3-year budget and growth plan for the business. Our advice to entrepreneurs considering the course is “JUST DO IT!!!” The skills and knowledge you gain are invaluable and put us on a serious growth trajectory.” states Jennifer Classen, Founder of Ngaphaya Y2K10, and Participant in the 2015 – 2018 Innovator Trust programme.

Ready to grow your business? Learn more about the programme and submit your application HERE.

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Rocket Challenge Targets Local Coding Skills

The Rocket APT Challenge is open to undergraduate students 18 years of age or older who are currently studying engineering, science, or technology at an accredited college or university.

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Addressing the growing skills gap within software development, local information technology value added distributor, Axiz has sponsored the Rocket APT Challenge and encouraged 39 students to participate in the regional round of the Rocket.Build coding challenge. This comprises 40% of the total numbers of entries received globally. Hosted by Rocket Software and APT Solutions, this annual challenge provides a forum for participants to develop applications on Rocket’s MultiValue platform.

Colleen Becker, Axiz pre-sales engineer, says that the response to the challenge was exceptional and the company is excited to be part of this global initiative: “This is a fantastic innovation challenge that provides students with an opportunity to hone their coding skills on a leading software platform. South Africa is by far the bigger pool of entrants and we are excited to see who is selected for the global Rocket.Build 2019 Hackathon.”

Participants are required to design an app on Rocket’s MultiValue application platform in support of the challenge theme: ‘Improve your Community’. Consisting of three regions: EMEA, Asia-Pacific, and the Americas, three winners from each region will be selected and awarded a cash prize of:

  • $1,000 (USD) – third place
  • $2,500 (USD) – second place
  • $5,000 (USD) – first place

Related: Want To Take Your Coding To The Next Level? Check Out These 7 Productivity Hacks

The nine developers will also be given an all-expenses-paid trip to Massachusetts, USA in June 2019 to participate in Rocket.Build 2019, where they will compete in teams of three to decide the global winner of the Rocket APT Challenge. The winning team will share a grand prize of $24,000 (USD).

Becker says that this is the first year Axiz is participating and the company will definitely register for the 2020 challenge, recruiting of which starts in September 2019: “We are committed to grow the number of young coders on the Rocket platform. There is a global opportunity for students to graduate into a developing industry and support the growing shortage of MultiValue-certified coders. Participants also stand the chance of receiving an internship from participating partners across all industry sectors.”

The Rocket APT Challenge is open to undergraduate students 18 years of age or older who are currently studying engineering, science, or technology at an accredited college or university.

For more information, contact colleen.becker@axiz.com

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SMEs: Have You Completed Your Financial Planning For 2019?

While small to medium enterprise (SME) owners may not have a great deal of control over South Africa’s broader economic issues, they do have control over how they plan and manage their finances, says EasyBiz Technologies Managing Director, Gary Epstein.

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“The failure of many SMEs to make it past the critical 3.5-year mark is more as a result of their inability to get the fundamentals right, rather than being able to deal with issues such as political uncertainty, crime or credit-rating downgrades.

“Several SMEs do not gain an adequate understanding of their markets or the competition they are up against. In addition, failure to manage their finances properly or to access funding and adapt to changes in the marketplace can also be serious hindrances to success.”

Epstein believes without proper financial planning and management, businesses place themselves on the back foot. “Business owners can only make informed decisions when they have a clear view of what is happening with their finances.”

That’s why having the proper financial management tools in place is so important for start-ups and SMEs. “At EasyBiz Technologies, we offer accounting solutions that are aimed at helping businesses manage their finances properly and placing them on a sound financial footing,” adds Epstein.

Tangible outcomes of a good system include increased productivity, reduced monthly expenses, improved accuracy, simplified tax compliance and better financial security. An effective system can also provide critical business insights and allow business owners to make informed and proactive decisions.

Epstein says efficient accounting solutions can help speed up business processes, affording business owners more time to focus on their core processes and growing their operations. “After all, time and money are the most precious resources when it comes to running a small business.

Related: 6 Steps Of Financial Planning

“Our solutions include analysis tools, report making applications and payroll assistance. In addition, income and expense trackers provide valuable information for tax and audit preparations,” he adds.

Epstein urges SMEs to plan for 2019 if they haven’t done so already. “It’s not too late to prepare for the year ahead and, with the financial year end for many businesses looming, now is the time to get a good system in place.”

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