Telkom incubates tech entrepreneurs
A new business incubation centre has been launched in the Eastern Cape by Telkom through its enterprise development programme called FutureMakers.
Propella FutureMakers Hub in Port Elizabeth was unveiled in a small business breakfast function this month and promises to open a window of opportunity for aspiring technology entrepreneurs.
Telkom launched FutureMakers in May 2015 with up to R100 million to spend and since then, the FutureMakers Fund, which provides seed capital to entrepreneurs, has invested more than R28 million in seven companies.
In addition, FutureMakers is supporting and training more than 600 entrepreneurs through business incubation programmes in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
Ian Russell, Telkom chief administration officer, said the hub in Port Elizabeth was the third in the country after Johannesburg and Cape Town.
The next hub will be launched in Durban, with four or five more in the next few years.
As part of the Propella sponsorship, Telkom has installed a dedicated fibre link, which it says is the fastest business data line available in the Eastern Cape.
The high-speed line will help accelerate the establishment of successful new businesses in the Eastern Cape.
Also, through the FutureMakers innovation, 250 internet cafés will be opened in remote areas around the country, including semi-urban townships, with at least four people employed in each of them.
The role of the hubs was to give people somewhere safe to work with good connectivity.
Experts to coach people on how to start up a business will be at the hubs and will be paid by Telkom. Russell said they were looking for individuals who had great business ideas or existing businesses they want to expand.
About 50 internet cafés have also been set up around the country and 200 more will be established in a year’s time.
“These things take time-to get the business model set up. But once you get it right, it becomes much easier,” Russell said.
People who want to run an internet café will be funded by Telkom, and given a business start-up in terms of what products to sell and how much they should charge.
They will do branding for them at the internet café and give them tools, such as computers.
“We give them a lot of tools. Once they start it up, they run it by themselves. We are in the background; they come to us for coaching and staff, but, broadly, it’s their business,” he said.
Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Danny Jordaan, who attended the launch, said initiatives such as FutureMakers would play a big role in helping small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs).
“These SMMEs are just crying out for us to help them ... because not everybody can work for General Motors or VW,” Jordaan said.