The name says it all. Telkom FutureMakers is a completely fresh and proactive approach to skills and small business development that taps into the existing Telkom pool of talent.
Entrepreneurs are job creators, as opposed to job seekers. When you become an entrepreneur, there is one less job seeker in the economy. This kind of job creation, especially for the youth, is one of the basic goals of economic development.
Telecommunications is an industry that is in continuous evolution - and Telkom is a business that has proved its resilience and adaptability to change through its inclusive responsiveness to this ever-changing landscape.
With an emphasis on enterprise and supplier development, Telkom FutureMakers is designed to drive diverse value chains, township economies, technology innovation and access to venture capital to rapidly scale business growth.
From ex-Telkom employees starting on their own with funding and equipment supplied by Telkom, to guiding township entrepreneurs in the app development arena, venture capital funding and hands-on mentorship – it’s all part of the Telkom FutureMakers offering that will have a real impact on real people, right now, and well into the future.
SAINC went to meet some of the Telkom FutureMakers participants, to learn first-hand how these interventions are changing lives and communities across the country.
The first innovator was Wayne Isaacs. After 30 years of dedicated service as a Telkom employee, Isaacs decided to embark on his entrepreneurial journey by taking early retirement and starting Enlight Technologies. This was at a time when Telkom was faced with the enormous challenge of line faults occurring exponentially. His initial focus was attending to the Telkom faults that had fallen behind and were bottlenecking the support system.
With investment and assistance from the Telkom FutureMakers Independent Field Technician Programme, his business grew from not only fixing faults, to also providing new fibre lines into areas that previously had no internet connectivity whatsoever. With growing demand, his business had to employ new technicians - and today, alongside Telkom, Isaacs provides ongoing training and secure employment to 16 people, with a multitude of beneficial consequences for their families and communities.
Khathutshelo Mufamadi is a beneficiary of the Telkom FutureMakers Venture Capital IDF fund. He is the founder and CEO of Droppa, a trucking company that forms part of Telkom’s supply chain. Droppa has transformed and regenerated the truck delivery model - from a system that used to take days, to a turnaround delivery time of only two hours.
Mufamadi always believed that technology could change the world, and he utilised the generous backing from Telkom FutureMakers to develop the app and system that drives Droppa. From small beginnings of less than 100 deliveries a day, today he is a proud CEO who has grown his company into a multimillion-rand enterprise. With further investment, he has his sights set on expanding beyond South Africa to become Africa’s pre-eminent supplier of transport logistics.
The third entrepreneur and innovator was Lesedi Rannoko, a third-year BComm student from Soweto. She is part of the FutureMakers Township Innovation Incubator programme. When one thinks of township entrepreneurs, it’s often the picture of an informal “spaza shop” owner who runs it as a survivalist business. But Telkom FutureMakers hopes to change this perspective to one of being able to really scale businesses, and tap into the infinite talent and potential in the townships to do this.
Rannoko was born and raised in the township of Soweto, and was acutely aware of the lack of quality affordable student accommodation available around her. She was determined to resolve this problem. With the assistance of the Township Innovation Incubator programme, she is developing a platform and app to effectively connect landlords seeking vetted tenants with students needing clean, safe and affordable accommodation in close proximity to their learning institutions. As one of 11 candidates chosen, she is solving real social issues using technology - and chasing her dreams of becoming the first millionaire in her family. The 4th industrial revolution is alive and well in South Africa today!
Read and watch more about Telkom FutureMakers here.