The incubator programme was developed to promote entrepreneurial skills and to broaden the supplier base in the Information Communications and Technology (ICT) industry.
It is targeted at Dimension Data’s current service providers and black South African entrepreneurs who own ICT businesses. Training and development business owner Melusi Zwane says the programme was helpful and informative.
At the graduation ceremony, Zwane did a thank-you speech on behalf of the group, saying: “Dimension Data’s Incubator Programme has been insightful and inspirational. Hence our perceptions and attitudes about the essence and role of business have changed significantly.
The programme took us through compliance issues and principles that guide practices in a business space. The insight into the social role of business touched me profoundly, as it puts entrepreneurs under the spotlight in relation to social responsibility.
“We have come a long way. The road has been long, winding and lonely. It is heartening to get Dimension Data’s assurance that from today we shall never walk alone.”
Fellow participant, Carl Uys, ran a thriving IT business in Durban from 2001 to 2007.
“My business grew over six years to become a team of seven professionals. Then I decided to incorporate cyber-crime prevention as a service. By expanding and still trying to manage the business by myself, I was unable to cope with human resources and the financial side of things. This is how my first business failed,” Uys says.
He says Dimension Data’s incubator program taught him the importance of strategic partners and financial management.
“Now my current business, Bowline Security Africa, focuses solely on cyber-crime prevention, and we are able to offer our services throughout the continent by forming strategic partnerships,” Uys says.
According to Zellah Fuphe, MEA Group strategic relations executive for Dimension Data Middle East and Africa, the programme is currently running in Gauteng, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape, and addresses common business challenges faced by emerging entrepreneurs.
“The main objective is to accelerate the development of small businesses to achieve sustainability, which in turn creates jobs and contributes to economic growth. It also strengthens Dimension Data’s ability to reach a wider network of clients,” says Fuphe.
The 18 entrepreneurs have businesses that have been running for two or more years and are delivering different ICT-related services to diverse clients in KwaZulu-Natal.
The new graduates were given 10 months of accredited training with Dimension Data solely sponsoring all entrepreneurial training, tools and material they received to help grow their business, said Dimension Data’s BEE marketing specialist, Waggie Mokoka.
During the selection process Dimension Data first asks its business unit heads to refer suitable small black-owned companies to be invited before approaching their associate bodies such as the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), the SmartXchange incubator, Eastern Cape Information Technology Initiative (Eciti) and Sector Education and Training Authority (Seta), who together have a large pool of small businesses needing support, which Dimension Data can draw from, Mokoka says.
The programme was launched in 2009 and supported 23 companies in Cape Town and seven in Gauteng during its inaugural year, has grown over the years and now has 80 participants.
Eligible participants must be small black-owned SA businesses, that have been operating for up to two years, have an annual turnover of under R5 million and must be a full-time entrepreneur.