File image: Vodacom. IOL.

CAPE TOWN - Vodacom Business, in partnership with technology and training company, Silulo Ulutho Technologies launched a business incubation centre in Mitchells Plain earlier this month.

This partnership aims to digitally empower SMME’s in the local community. In the current digital era, technology is evolving at a rapid rate and the incubation centre aims to equip entrepreneurs with the necessary skill set. 

“ We are living in the 4th Industrial Revolution where we talk of AI, Big data, Robotics and Algorithms. It becomes vital to have businesses that develop Applications, Security Systems, FinTech, EduTech so that they can bring solutions that will be addressing our Social ills. It is a valuable time in our country to stimulate a culture of entrepreneurship especially in the townships and rural areas”, said Communications Manager for Vodacom Foundation, Sustainability and Sponsorship at Vodacom, Andile April. 

April said that this is an interesting space that Vodacom and Silulo is tapping into. Notably, this is the second time that Silulo is partnering with Vodacom. The first partnership with Vodacom was on Prepaid and Postpaid Mobile devices. 

The partnership is worth a couple of million but it is still in its pilot phase. More changes are expected which will add much more value. 

Although the centre caters for entrepreneurs, it is open for prospective entrepreneurs to pitch their business idea and they will receive assistance. 

“We are open to walk-ins and the community as a whole as we have an Internet Café on one side and a multi-purpose Training Room. We designed it to cater for everyone”, said April. 

        Picture: Launch of Silulo Incubation centre. (Supplied). 

By attending an accredited Growth wheel course, the incubation centre is able to offer coaching to entrepreneurs. 

Although Vodacom did not disclose the cost of this course, they will also be providing no-cost workshops where they invite speakers to talk to the entrepreneurs and share business growth secrets. 

Silulo said that despite not offering funding to small businesses, they do act as a link between entrepreneurs and organisations that offer funding. 

“We are already doing this for our franchisees. We now have 11 100% franchises that have been funded through the Inyosi Enterprise Development fund”, said April. 

“We have a relationship with SAB Foundation – we will be able to link entrepreneurs with them. We are now in talks with SEFA to see if they cannot have a dedicated office in the Incubator so as to be more accessible to the entrepreneurs. We will also be open to invest in some of the business that will be aligned with the Silulo Vision in the future”, added April. 

When asked what the community’s response to the incubation centre has been thus far, April said that there has been a positive welcome and feedback from the communities so far. 

“We currently have signed up 6 Incubatees and are looking at a total number of 18.  People are already coming in as walk-ins for Business Services. For the launch, we used some of our Incubatees (For Security, Catering and Sound)”, said April. 

Located in Watergate Mall, the 18-seater co-working space, individuals are trained in Digital Marketing Skills, Social Media Skills and are also assist with skills on fully utilizing their digital devices (iPad/Tablets).

“ For Silulo and Vodacom, this is an exciting phase. We will continue to grow together and open more stores”, concluded April. 

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- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE