Limpopo incubator helps local jewellers

Tessa Ngobeni

Identified as a scarce skill in Limpopo, the jewellery design and manufacturing sector is receiving much-needed support from the Seda Limpopo Jewellery Incubator. We spoke to Tessa Ngobeni, the acting chief executive officer on how to access assistance and support from the incubator.

What is the name of your incubator?

The Seda Limpopo Jewellery Incubator, Centre of Excellence.

How would you describe your focus?

The focus of the incubator is on small businesses in the jewellery sector in Limpopo. The team works together to support previously disadvantaged youth to assist young entrepreneurs to become the best entrepreneurs in Limpopo.

Where are you based and from which areas do you recruit new incubatees?

The incubator is based in Polokwane and we recruit entrepreneurs from Limpopo.

Which businesses are best suited to join?

Entrepreneurs in the jewellery design and manufacturing sector are best suited to apply.

How do they apply?

Entrepreneurs are recruited through roadshows and open days. We are also run a learnership programme funded by the Mining Qualification Authority (MQA). After completion of the programme, the incubatees then fall into our SMME Development Programme.

How long do businesses stay in your programmes?

Businesses stay in the programme for three years. Once the entrepreneurs have completed the programme, we evaluate the business to see whether they can operate on their own.

What are the two key elements of your support that sets you apart from other incubators?

We are the only incubator in Limpopo that offers training and small business development in the jewellery design and manufacturing sector.

We are also the only public organisation in Limpopo that provides and promotes mineral beneficiation through jewellery manufacturing.

How long have you been going?

We have been operational since 2009.

How many businesses have been incubated with your support and how many of them are still going today?

We have already incubated 49 businesses.

How many incubatees are now in your programme?

There is no limit thus far as jewellery manufacturing has been identified as one of the scarce skills in this province.

What are your fees?

We charge a rental fee of R250 per month for business owners who use our equipment.

What commitments do incubatees make before they enter your programme? And what commitment do you make to them?

We ask the entrepreneurs to commit via a signed contract. All our offerings are made available to the incubatees in the contract.

These services include business support, business management, technical support, coaching and monitoring.

What are the average sales of your incubatees over a year in your programme? After two years? After three years?

The average sales for year one is R20 000, year two is R50 000 and year three is R70 000.

What is the best thing you heard someone say about your incubator?

The best thing said so far was that we alleviate poverty and create jobs for our youth.

And the worst?

We fail to deliver on our offerings to entrepreneurs due to limited funding we receive.

What was your biggest success thus far?

Our International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) accreditation, MQA accreditation and we won an international small business award in Botswana.

And biggest failure?

A lack of funds.

Why are you involved in supporting new businesses?

We want to create jobs for the youth from previously disadvantaged backgrounds and alleviate poverty.

What is your biggest wish for improving support to entrepreneurs in South Africa?

For the organisation to access more funding so that we are able to support small businesses through our technical skills and through learning and development programmes. We would also like to reach out to rural areas in Limpopo that we haven’t yet reached because of limited resources.



International exposure gives sales boost


, ISO, Mining Qualification Authority, Seda Limpopo Jewellery Incubator, Tessa Ngobeni

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  • tmkconsult

    What a great initiative for jewellery entrepreneurs! It is just a pity that they are not able to fully realise their potential because of funding access challenges. As I was reading the article, I was wondering what the funding is to be used for, maybe because I am not exactly familiar with how incubators work. Is the incubator owned wholly by Seda? Are they open to getting funding from external sources? What type of funding is required: risk or equity capital? Or maybe they want only grant funding. If it’s risk capital, how are they going to pay it back? These are but some of the questions one needs to be getting answers to so that one is able to say, yes I can assist.
    Otherwise it is truly a great initiative, keep up the good work.

    • Christoff Oosthuysen

      Hi Themba.

      Incubation is a fast evolving way of supporting entrepreneurs. I was fortunate to do a training course for Seda-linked incubators recently and I was really inspired by the energy of the centre managers who attended. Some of these incubators fall 100% under Seda, while others are independent.

      How are you involved in incubation?

      • Themba Mkandla

        Hi Christoff. Yes incubation is a great way to support startups. In countries that have been using incubation, the failure rate of small businesses has been reduced significantly. My specialisation Christoff is business capital access for startups. When I read this article I was thinking how I could possibly assist an incubator like this one to access more funding, hence the questions.

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