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Telkom unveils R100m development plan

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer
Johannesburg, 07 May 2015
Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko hopes the FutureMakers programme will create jobs and improve access to technology.
Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko hopes the FutureMakers programme will create jobs and improve access to technology.

Telkom is ploughing over R100 million into a development programme focused on driving innovation in the ICT sector.

The company says the new programme, dubbed FutureMakers, aims to grow access to technology and offer long-term support to its beneficiaries.

Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko says, by growing entrepreneurial opportunities within ICT, the company believes it can create jobs, improve access to technology and develop a stable and competitive supply chain.

"FutureMakers serves the national vision for broadband and ICT development, while also supporting our own enterprise and supplier development objectives."

Collective effort

Small business development minister Lindiwe Zulu has lauded the initiative, calling on other corporates to "emulate the example of giving practical expression to the national agenda of building strong and sustainable small businesses and co-operatives that will be engines of economic growth and job creation".

To address the challenges facing SA, requires a collective effort, says Zulu. "The need to support small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMME) and co-operatives is a responsibility of both government and the private sector."

FutureMakers supports SMMEs with funding, business development and telecoms services. It works to identify and grow entrepreneurial opportunities across the ICT industry and within Telkom's supplier value chains.

Telkom says the programme will leverage the company's own national footprint of products and services, resources, and assets, by providing funding, business support, technology and mentoring.

Programme pillars

The FutureMakers programme comprises four pillars, namely FutureFund, FutureSource, FutureHub and FutureProof.

Through the FutureFund, Telkom is making an initial investment of R100 million to extend financial support to SMMEs that supply Telkom or that work within the broader ICT sector. This funding will be in the form of working capital, loans and equity. Identity Development Fund managers have been appointed to manage the fund on behalf of Telkom.

Telkom is also investing in local suppliers and partners as well as potential suppliers, third party distributors, Internet cafes, and innovative ICT start-ups by helping them to become more competitive, through the FutureSource initiative. Entrepreneurs who are part of the FutureSource initiative will receive business development support and training from some of South Africa's top SMME development providers.

FutureHubs provide a platform for stimulating innovation and technology uptake within small businesses. The hubs reduce start-ups costs for new business and encouraging a support of collaborative environment for developing enterprises. Telkom says its longstanding sponsorship of the Bandwidth Barn in Cape Town will continue, along with a new programme to source, develop and support high innovation businesses.

The company is also investing over R5 million in upgrading a co-working and incubation space in Tshimologong Precinct, Braamfontein, which will be ready in November this year. Tshimologong will be Gauteng's first business incubator for the ICT industry. It will provide Johannesburg ICT entrepreneurs with access to broadband connectivity, mentoring and other incubation support.

Partnerships, in the form of the FutureProof initiative, form the fourth pillar of the FutureMakers strategy. The FutureProof initiative will benefit SMMEs and stimulate demand for, and productive use of, ICT products and services, says Telkom.

"By promoting entrepreneurial activity, Telkom is confident South Africa can improve competitiveness and job creation, across the ICT sector," says Maseko.