Amazon Web Services (AWS) South Africa is inviting black-owned technology small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to apply for up to R7.5 million worth of funding as part of its Equity Equivalent Investment Programme (EEIP).
Launched in 2019, the initiative was created to support and promote equity and inclusion in the South African SME ecosystem.
The 18- to 24-month acceleration programme seeks to encourage diversity and enable more innovative South African start-ups to launch, scale and grow.
According to AWS, the 2023 EEIP will focus on selecting black-owned and -led early-stage start-upsthat want to learn to build their operations through the use of AWS cloud offerings and grow as partners in the Amazon Partner Network.
The R7.5 million funding allocated for each business will cover hiring and developing the business team, paying for office space and other administrative overheads to support business growth.
Start-ups will also receive AWS technical service credits to build and deploy their solutions, as well as business advisory services to guide their ‘go to market’ strategy.
“Our commitment to South Africa is growth, since starting the programme three years ago,” says Nomzamo Xaba, programme manager, BBBEE at AWS.
“It’s been phenomenal to see small businesses grow and thrive, offering their products globally through the programme. It’s a culmination of our commitment to deliver BBBEE programmes that go beyond transformation and deliver long-term impact to our customers.”
According to AWS, most nascent entrepreneurs raise funding from a combination of savings, goodwill of family and friends, and angel investors to convert their idea into a prototype or a minimum viable product.
For entrepreneurs from historically disadvantaged backgrounds in SA, pre-seed funding is a bigger struggle, as many don’t have familial wealth or assets accumulated and lack access to angel investment networks.
SMEs have until 10 August to apply for the AWS EEIP, and 100% black-owned innovative start-ups building or planning to build using AWS cloud are eligible.
Applicants must have a level one BBBEE rating and be an exempted micro enterprise or qualifying small enterprise. AWS says it will give preference to start-ups that are female-owned and -managed.
Interested businesses can read the EEIP guide for details on what successful applicants can expect during the 24-month period.
To find out more about the application process and criteria, visit the initiative’s website.