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Norwegian incubator sets up shop in SA

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Norwegian-based incubator for start-up businesses, The Hatchery, has opened a Cape Town office to extend its work in finding and supporting innovative entrepreneurs on the African continent.

Originated and funded from Oslo, Norway, The Hatchery strives to provide a global reach, offering in-house expertise and milestone-based funding to start-up founders so they can be freed up to innovate.

“We release founders from the time-consuming tasks of raising funds and running a business because these often aren’t their core skills,” says Jon Bøhmer, The Hatchery’s Norwegian investor.

“We want them to have enough time to focus on their creative innovation because that’s the lifeblood of their business.”

Bøhmer, a serial entrepreneur who specialises in clean-tech and multimedia, with 30 years of international experience, decided that launching an incubator would be the best way to spread his expertise across multiple companies simultaneously. Having grown up on a chicken farm, the analogy to a hatchery captured his vision.

As Africa’s “tech capital”, Cape Town is the natural choice for The Hatchery to reside. The company says in 2020 alone, $88 million was invested in tech start-ups in the city, which is home to 40 000 employees of tech companies.

It also hosts most of the country’s venture capital firms and developers and offers leading digital skills training through its academies and universities, it notes.

The business is run in Cape Town by managing director Chwayita Nqiwa-Twalo, a marketing strategic specialist with a penchant for innovation and technology. She took on the role in April and has been busy building her team and strategy.

“It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to identify, build and support these exciting entrepreneurial brands,” says Nqiwa-Twalo. “I’m passionate about engaging with inspirational founders and helping to turn their vision into reality.”

Her team includes technical director Dr Malibongwe Manono and project director Christelle Betty, and is bolstered by numerous advisors and consultants, who are specifically matched with start-ups to offer the best and most needed expertise appropriate to their businesses.

The Cape Town Hatchery has five “eggs” that constitute its existing projects:

● Pulse, which provides smart utility metering and revenue collection in emerging economies.

● SwiftPower, a technology solution that seeks to upgrade standard transfer specification utility meters.

● Oasis, a blockchain exchange that funds small-scale solar projects in Africa.

● PushMoney, a platform offering mobile ordering and payments.

● Pawa, a platform providing free solar energy to those mired in poverty.

There are many incubators out there but what makes The Hatchery different is its approach to supporting the business founders that it partners with, says the firm.

“What sets us apart as venture builders is that we take the burden of responsibility away from the founder by ensuring we’ve got the right experts to advise on taking the business forward,” says Nqiwa-Twalo.

These experienced specialists give input into all aspects of the business, such as legal requirements, marketing, HR and processes, and then draft strategies and assist in implementing all of these, the company notes.

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