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4IRI, Cisco open SMME incubation hub in Western Cape

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Executives from 4IRI, Cisco, the US Embassy and Seda cut the ribbon at the opening of the incubation hub.
Executives from 4IRI, Cisco, the US Embassy and Seda cut the ribbon at the opening of the incubation hub.

Cisco has collaborated with SMME tech platform Fourth Industrial Revolution Incubation (4IRI), to introduce an incubation hub in the Western Cape.

Through the Experience, Design, Go to Market and Earn (EDGE) Centre, the companies aim to provide SMMEs with the latest technologies, alongside training and enablement programmes, in line with the priorities set out by the National Development Plan, in terms of job creation, poverty alleviation and driving economic growth.

The establishment of the EDGE Centres is a key pillar of Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration programme, launched in SA in 2019, which aims to help accelerate digitisation and make the benefits of the internet and technology available to broad groups of society.

The centre will connect SMMEs with global Cisco experts who can help them develop business ideas and concepts that tackle the most pressing challenges of today’s digital world.

The EDGE Centre in Cape Town is the third in the country and follows similar initiatives in Pretoria and the Dube Trade Port in KwaZulu-Natal.

“The centre will see Cisco and 4IRI share their business knowledge and help develop small and medium businesses for the digital age,” said Charmaine Houvet, public policy director for Africa at Cisco, speaking at the launch yesterday.

“It will not only help speed up SMMEs’ entry to market but also contribute to creating much-needed jobs in the Western Cape. We have developed this centre to provide SMMEs with an innovative space where they can grow and develop using world-class support.”

Also addressing delegates at the launch, small business development minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams noted: “We must find ways to dismantle this persisting structure of our economy. Small businesses and the fourth industrial revolution present an opportunity to transform this economy.

“4IRI partners, Seda and Cisco’s progressive collaboration in providing incubation services to SMMEs in the networking, cyber security, fintech and insurtech sectors is commendable. It is through partnerships with organisations like 4IRI that we can hold our young entrepreneurs by the hand, nurture and support them to grow to be sustainable businesses that contribute to our country’s GDP,” said Ndabeni-Abrahams.

Government’s intention, she added, is to place small businesses in SA as the anchor for economic growth and greater transformation, unlocking opportunities for small businesses in the value chains of the highly-monopolised sectors of our economy.

Naomi Musi, CEO of 4IRI, notes: “The collaboration with Cisco South Africa will help us assist and enable SMMEs in the Western Cape to participate meaningfully in the fourth industrial revolution. We will help these budding inventors and entrepreneurs develop into successful leaders of industry and create an enabling environment for the youth of tomorrow to be part of the information economy.

According to Cisco, the EDGE Centre is expected to create a long-lasting ripple effect that extends beyond just the SMMEs – it is an investment in education and skills development that will see more opportunities be unlocked by communities across the Western Cape.

Cisco says it plans to expand the reach of the EDGE centres and establish similar centres in Limpopo and North West. The centres will specialise in topics that are relevant to the local economy, such as smart ports, internet of things in agriculture and smart cities.

“The concept of EDGE Centres is about more than the technology being put in place. It creates connection for the community where they will have access to information resources. It also forges opportunities to be part of the digital economy and get much-needed skills for digitisation,” concludes Houvet.

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