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Absa gets behind tech entrepreneurs campaign

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The initiative that promises to inspire and discover the next wave of 1 000 technology and innovation entrepreneurs in SA has received backing from big-four bank Absa.

This is the word from Lindani Mkhize, founder and CEO of Silicon Durbs and the person behind the 1 000 Tech Entrepreneurs Campaign.

Mkhize tells ITWeb that every partnership the campaign engages in is done so with a long-term view. As a result, he’d like the collaboration to be the beginning of a long-term relationship.

“Absa has believed in the vision and committed a partial funding to the 1 000 initiative,” he states. “The funding allows us to cover the cost of the campaign from awareness of the bootcamps right up to delivering them."

The 1 000 Tech Entrepreneurs Campaign is a year-long initiative whose aim is to inspire and assist the next 1 000 entrepreneurs to partake in the tech entrepreneurship ecosystem in SA. It also aims to be a foundation for collaboration.

Commenting on kicking off the entrepreneurship campaign during a pandemic and national lockdown, Mkhize says COVID-19 has done the campaign both good and bad.

Due to the current situation with COVID-19, people are more willing to partake in new things, he said.

“It has been an awakening call for many as it proved there is no such thing as safety, especially in employment. We are receiving a high number of requests from people who are working full-time who want to start their own projects as side hustles, to supplement their income, or they purely want to be involved in something new.

“We are also experiencing a high number of professionals who are not interested in starting their own businesses, but would like to join start-ups either as advisors or team members on a part-time basis.

“On the other hand, COVID-19 has really put us in a difficult position as we are hosting the bootcamps as physical events. Almost every city we have been in all the bootcamps were fully booked, but the rise in COVID cases affected attendance badly. Because of the rise of COVID numbers in places like Port Elizabeth and some parts of the country, we have opted to host the last three bootcamps online and plan to continue with physical bootcamps next year in January.”

He notes bootcamps have been held in Durban, Richards Bay, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth (PE).

Collaborative environment

In addition to Absa, the campaign has formed a new partnership with Propella Business Incubator, which he says resulted in a successful bootcamp in PE.

“The result we are expecting out of this partnership is more bootcamps in the city that will develop the city of PE to be the prime tech hub of Eastern Cape. In 2021, we will work intensively together to bring more opportunities for aspiring tech entrepreneurs in the city and we will be able to bring some of our partners and stakeholders that we are working with nationally to the city of Port Elizabeth.

“One of our biggest concerns currently is sustainability of start-ups after the bootcamps and through our partnership, we are working on revising the challenges we were faced with on our current edition of the 1 000 initiative by bringing a personalised approach for the city that is far more sustainable and easily scalable.”

With SA’s unemployment woes having worsened amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Mkhize believes the 1 000 campaign has proven to be one of the solutions to work on and build as a country in order to see strong economic growth and creation of new jobs in the country.

“We would like to invite more business from different industries and sectors of the economy out there to join us on this movement of changing the future of South Africa through the development of tech entrepreneurship and to engage with us on how we can outline possible synergies and how we can partner.

“The mission we are on needs all of us to collaborate and share resources for us to achieve intended results. It is when we form strategic partnerships that we create a collaborative environment that is beneficial to all stakeholders involved.

“Our role is to make sure that we do not form partnerships that are only serving the beneficiaries who are entrepreneurs, but we also form partnerships that strategically contribute to the bottom line of our partners in the short and long run,” he concludes.

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