Nzimande urges the business industry to use service
THE Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, is urging South African aspirant, youth entrepreneurs, to use the services of the revamped digital Innovation Bridge Portal as enabling tool for advancing their businesses.
This follows the launch of this service last week, a collaboration between the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the Department of Small Business Development in partnership with the World Bank.
The Minister said this collaboration is meant to harness the innovative and entrepreneurial energy of young people, not only locally, but across the entire southern African region to increase their business acumen and expand their businesses to grow local economies.
“The Innovation Bridge Portal brings together public and private sector stakeholders in the entrepreneurship ecosystem to benefit innovators and entrepreneurs. Through promoting collaboration among these stakeholders, the portal serves as a “one-stop shop” repository of information on opportunities and networks,” he said in a media statement.
Assisting entrepreneurs and innovators to drive economic growth
The portal is expected to be the ultimate catalyst for enabling entrepreneurs and innovators to thrive, promoting economic growth and job creation in South Africa and neighbouring countries.
Min Nzimande said during the past months, the Innovation Bridge team had engaged various ecosystem contributors to support underserved entrepreneurs. This is done through mentorship allowing entrepreneurs to critique the performance of their respective models in the market.
During the launch, a group of 14 entrepreneurs from South Africa, Namibia and Lesotho pitched ideas for possible funding opportunities, mentorship and training. Ranging from a reworking of the stokvel tradition to using digital mapping in tracking cattle, the ideas were both creative and aimed at addressing societal needs.
Best start-ups awarded
Abiri Innovations, a South African (SA) start-up providing integrated mapping systems for peri-urban and rural areas was named Most Promising Entrepreneur at the event. Nosihle Dlamini’s start-up, Get2Natural Beauty, producing scientifically approved hair and skin products for African people, won the Best Pitch award. The Most Innovative award went to Joseph Nyamariwata of Abiri for his Simple Influence start-up, which connects marketers with well-known influencers and launches marketing campaigns online.
Commending the region for its wealth of talent, Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for Eswatini, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and SA, expressed the hope that the portal and the ecosystem would continue to grow.
“This is certainly possible in the southern African region, given the wealth of talent and resources in the ecosystem,” Marie-Nelly said while emphasising the need for Africa to pool its resources to strengthen the ecosystem and remove existing bottlenecks.
With the high youth unemployment in SA and on the continent, SA is investing to enable young people to access the skills needed to succeed in launching their own businesses.
The DSI’s Director-General, Dr Phil Mjwara, said that while it might seem that new technologies were reducing the demand for certain jobs, greater innovation was in reality driving new growth sectors. “We need to start thinking about how to replace those jobs that are gone with something slightly different.”
Mjwara said that creating a vibrant start-up community and assisting young entrepreneurs with ideas to build their businesses was of major importance and had motivated the government to support the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in developing and revamping the Innovation Bridge Portal.
For more information, visit the Innovation Bridge Entrepreneur Community.