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Wednesday, 07 February 2018 15:29

City Empowers Local Technology Entrepreneurs

EThekwini Municipality is passionate about empowering young businesses and through the Media, Information, Communications, and Technology (MICT) Business Incubator SmartXchange more than 60 entrepreneurs have been afforded the opportunity to develop successful businesses.

The programme currently incubates 66 Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs) in the City. Acting Head for Business Support, Tourism and Markets Units Oswald Nzama said the programme focuses on information technology and a dynamic young business incubation centre known as SmartXchange was set aside for SMMEs.

“We work closely with the private sector which funds the incubation of these businesses and 98 percent the entrepreneurs are black and 28 percent are female,” he said. Nzama said local universities of technology were also engaged to be part of the programme. “SmartXchange has collaborated with higher learning institutions to develop a Smart African City. We have numerous initiatives underway to assist university students to start a tech start-up. The City is partnering with an agency called Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) in providing the seed funding as well as capacity building programmes for tech businesses.

It has also established the entity called Innovate Durban for tech startups,” added Nzama. SmartXchange Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Naidoo said SmartXchange currently has a 100 megabytes internet access within the facility. Naidoo said the success of the programme was far-reaching and had been rolled-out to other municipalities as well.

“Foreign tech businesses are also already on board and the most recent investment is Samsung setting up the plant in Dube TradePort and the beneficiation is visible in the Tech Skills Academy initiated in KwaMashu with others to follow soon in other regions,” he said.

Naidoo said SmartXchange hosts pitching sessions on behalf of the tech start-up’s, with potential funders. It also offers a R500 000 seed fund innovation grant and currently there are 18 recipients of this grant.

Darul Ihsan Media Desk

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