A hub for entrepreneurs to thrive in their business endeavors, South Africa offers a supportive ecosystem for ventures to gain mentorship, training, and other business development needs. The following seven incubators are making it possible for African startups to achieve their goals:
Led by Allon Raiz, Colin Kapeluschnick, and Alfie Naidoo, Razicorp offers entrepreneurs a safe environment in which to grow their business ventures with the support of mentors. The company, which prefers to be considered a Prosperator, guides growth-hungry entrepreneurs through the process of gaining capital funding, accessing markets, and developing marketing and sales strategies.
The for-profit business incubator also supplies back-office support to ensure program participants have the necessary resources to carry out daily operations successfully. Educational curriculums that promote business growth and a platform to connect with a community of like-minded entrepreneurs are other benefits of joining Razicorp.
Founded by Mark Shuttleworth, a creator of free and open source software (FOSS), the Shuttleworth Foundation provides fellowship programs for social entrepreneurs that seek change through innovation. Its social investment model aims to grow entrepreneurial endeavors by 10 or more times the initially invested amount.
Specifically, the organization upholds the philosophy of openness that will improve access to essential information, thus reinventing how people live. The foundation’s mission of creating positive change challenges the status quo by investing in ventures that support free content and data exchange as well as open access and open source for all. Its entrepreneurs envision a world with no social, technological, and legal restrictions, so the opportunities for replication and innovation are unlimited. They also value collaborative processes that help elevate the success of foundation.
With backing from Google, ISlabs, and Omidyar, JoziHub is a product of the Praekelt Foundation. As a technology incubator, the Johannesburg-based organization supports entrepreneurs in growing sustainable business models by connecting them with developers to create mobile, internet, and social media technologies that tackle social issues.
Entrepreneurs gain access to open work environments that are interactive and dynamic. In addition, they obtain education and networking opportunities through inspirational events and activities. JoziHub leverages partnerships with 10 organizations, including Google for Entrepreneurs, AfriLabs, and Venture Solutions, and numerous mentors to help each program participant achieve success. As of February, the 2016 cohort includes 27 startups.
Establishing co-working spaces in Rosebank for startups to learn and grow, Standard Bank launched two incubator programs in 2015. The programs offer traditional educational and training support in areas of business development and acceleration.
Further, the financial institution helps startups overcome the major barrier of designing and creating prototypes of products. Its ability to offer a brick and mortar facility to develop, test, and deploy prototypes is unique as many incubators do not extend the service. This plays a valuable role in gaining financial support from investors and lenders, who typically struggle to assist in the growth of a product they are not able to see and examine for viability.
In short, Standard Bank provides a full spectrum of assistance that aids startups in enhancing value chains.
Entrepreneur Incubator and Academy
Located in Cape Town, Entrepreneur Incubator and Academy is headed by business coach Bruce Wade. The organization lives by the motto of “Growing Your Business is Our Business” and hosts a virtual incubation platform comprised of coaching and marketing tools.
In respect to the former, the academy developed four coaching opportunities that meet the needs of businesses in various development stages, ranging from startups to established companies. In addition, one-on-one coaching is available to help business owners address specific challenges and develop strategies to overcome obstacles.
The company’s marketing program guides entrepreneurs through marketing and social media strategy as well as videography and social media management. Program participants learn how to target specific demographics that can result in greater business success and discover the importance of timeliness in achieving goals.
LaunchLab is a product of Nedbank and offers mixed-use space for startup businesses at Stellenbosch University. The organization has a mission to grow an entrepreneurial ecosystem throughout Africa that focuses on business development and acceleration. Sponsored by 10 partners, including Mentors & Business Coaches International (MBCI) and Innovus, LaunchLab hosts a Lift-Off program that mentors and educates startup leaders as well as offers them a pitching platform to grow ideas.
The incubation program caters to companies in the agritech and food, edutech, paid media, cleantech, and fintech and big data industries. However, the leadership behind LaunchLab also considers startups outside the five areas that show promise in creating a successful product that does not currently exist in its sector.
Serving under-resourced South African communities, the Awethu Project uses a Talent Identification Process to select program participants based on their potential to become world-class entrepreneurs. By removing stipulations, such as a minimum level of education and capital, the incubator gives promising individuals the opportunity to launch innovative ideas poised to change their lives as well as the communities in which they live.
Individuals entering the program must be in the early stages of establishing a company. The organization guides entrepreneurs through business development and funding with the support of mentors. To date, the Awethu Project has successfully incubated hundreds of entrepreneurs and received recognition from the Echoing Green Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative.