From KZN to Gauteng, Software AG’s accelerated strategic transformation drive post unrest

Software AG does more than simply pick up the pieces of unrest, it has committed to rebuilding renewed hope in economic transformation through the fourth industrial revolution.

Johannesburg, 27 Oct 2021
Read time 3min 10sec

In the wake of the unrest in July 2021, technology business Software AG has committed to not only picking up the pieces of its own shattered socio-economic development investment in KwaZulu-Natal, but has upped the ante to provide help to entrepreneurs in the township of Alexandra in Johannesburg through the Alexandra Digital Hub, an initiative in partnership with the Department of Small Business Development and other technology industry players.

This has been spurred by additional funding at the global group’s Head Office in Germany, Darmstadt, which came through during the social unrest that our country faces. This is one of Software AG’s founding principles in driving transformation initiatives within the countries in which it operates. The critical impact of transformation within South Africa has always been at the pinnacle of Software AG’s strategy.

After the smoke cleared from the July unrest, Software AG was deeply saddened to find that the Innovation Co-Lab, which it was deeply involved in together with Innovate Durban, was destroyed. Over R1.6 million worth of equipment was lost. But this did not deter Software AG in the initiative to lend a hand in getting the lab back up and running.

Ndazi Nokoane, Transformation Manager, said: “We know that this co-lab was a source of inspiration for the local community and we will not rest before we do all we can to help get the programme up and running.”

As an NGO, Innovate Durban’s aim is to nurture, co-ordinate and facilitate a digital inclusive innovation ecosystem through utilising the fourth industrial revolution for economic growth and job creation, with a focus on industry, spatially excluded or marginalised persons, the public sector and SMEs.

During 2019 and early 2020, Innovate Durban, together with Software AG, established the first township innovation centre, known as The Innovation Co-Lab, in Cato Manor. An average of 80 to 90 students made use of the Co-Lab facilities and/or attended training at the Co-Lab each month.

“The Innovation Co-Lab provided access to innovation-related tools, information and resources. It was a place where budding entrepreneurs could innovate and create opportunities, and that was taken away from them in a matter of days,” said Kholiwe Makhohliso, Country VP.

Although KwaZulu-Natal was the hardest hit by the unrest, the township of Alexandra in Johannesburg also felt the full force of destruction. As such, many small businesses were left incapacitated or completely destroyed.

To aid small business owners in the community get back on their feet, Software AG has partnered with other technology players to create the Alexandra Digital Hub. This hub will provide youth start-ups and grassroots innovators in the township with the opportunity to connect with digital technologies and accrue the practical knowledge they need to join the fourth industrial revolution.

“We truly hope that this lab will help so many small business owners find a way to move forward after their businesses were destroyed," said Nokoane. The Alexandra lab is currently under construction and will be open for business soon.

“We know that history will not remember the wake of destruction left by the unrest, but rather how we rallied together to pick up the pieces and move forward as a stronger, smarter and unified nation. Whatever small role we can play in that narrative is one we will proudly and passionately commit to,” concluded Makhohliso.