18 hand-picked entrepreneurs from towns, townships and rural communities across South Africa recently pitched their businesses to top level executives to secure their place on a trade visit to the United Kingdom in April this year.
Sponsored by BT Global Services and lead by MEDO, the International Trade Programme (ITP) aims to promote trade between South Africa and the UK, while fast tracking entrepreneurial businesses. The programme consists of a week of training programmes, networking events and business and investor pitches in the UK.
“On the last trade visit, our entrepreneurs achieved an incredible amount in one short week abroad. They all came away with fresh ideas, strategies and connections that have greatly benefited them. The entrepreneurs who came away with actual business have not looked back and we certainly expect the same, if not more, from this trip,” says Judi Sandrock, CEO of MEDO.
Here’s a rundown of the entrepreneurs vying for a plane ticket to the UK. We’ll find out in the coming weeks who made the cut.
Veronica Shangali Aswani — Wavunow.com
Aswani founded Wavunow.com, a socially conscious eCommerce website aimed at showcasing African crafters from rural communities to global markets. Wavunow, a Swahili word for net, showcases products that can be bought online, bringing a range of quality, uniquely African goods — crafts, home and personal accessories and corporate gifts — to a global audience. The concept goes a step further by also offering business development training to the SMMEs selling their products on the site.
Sanele Gcumisa — Ocule IT
Ocule IT specialises in IT consulting and technology Services. Ocule provides services that help companies remain competitive, reduce costs, enhance product quality. The services include IT strategy and policy development, broadband deployment, software development, IT supply, training and development.
Jeffery Mulaudzi — Muluadzi Alexandra Tours
Mulaudzi started Muluadzi Alexandra Tours in 2010 after identifying an opportunity that would not only help him break the cycle of poverty, but uplift his community in Alexandra township in Johannesburg. Through his website, tourists can book cycle tours that take them around the township visiting historical sites and hotspots. Guided by Muluadzi himself, it gives visitors a new perspective of Alex and allows them to interact with the community. In the span of two years, Muluadzi has managed to take his business online and the demand for his tours has helped him grow from having just 2 bicycles to 24.
Obakeng Mathlhoko and Nathi Shabalala — Sowertech
Sowertech founders Mathlhoko and Shabalala run an innovative business that focuses on mobile app and technology development. Sowertech offers a number of mobile solutions such as mobi-web development, App development, innovation process management and consulting services. The team is currently working on Afta Robot, a type of Uber for South Africa’s Taxi service.
The below video shows the Afta Robot concept. The team is currently working on a USSD version.
Sibongile Mbele — Mbele Social Concepts (Pty) Ltd
Mbele combined his passion for IT and uplifting others into a business called Mbele Social Concepts (Pty) Ltd. His flagship programme, Computers4Kids, provides IT education and training for disadvantaged children in the Langa, Nyanga, Gugulethu and Khayelitsha communities in Cape Town. A highly experienced professional in the ICT industry and the product of a less advantaged background himself, Sibongile decided to bring IT skills and knowledge to children who may not otherwise have access to this kind of resource.
Thulani Ngwenya — Bytecode Consulting
Ngwenya founded Bytecode Consulting in 2006. The company delivers mobile app and productivity solutions to customers by integrating mobile and cloud technology. This includes mobile applications for SAP, which is one of the world’s largest ERP systems; and other ERP & Legacy systems. As a registered member of the Wireless Applications Service Provider Association, the business also provides consulting services, assisting clients in finding the best ICT architecture for their mobile strategies. Ngwenya has one of only two SAP mobile partnerships in Africa.
Dean Thompson — Inferno Films
Thompson, who turned his childhood fascination into a business when he started Inferno Films, specialises in corporate and marketing videos, broadcast television, music videos and animation. Having worked in the television industry, Thompson identified a niche and now provides a packaged service to clients.
Raphael Mohlala and Lucas Ledwaba — Phakamo Holdings
Business Partners Mohlala and Ledwaba are founders of Phakamo Holdings, a service provider in the IT enterprise architecture management & governance, telecommunications, multimedia and technology supply domains.
Nkosinathi Mvelase — iMvelase Business Process Engineers
iMvelase Business Process Engineers was established to provide total solutions in CIO support services, Business Process Engineering (BPE) and automation.
Phumlani Gouws — MERIDICT Systems
MERIDICT Systems is licensed by ICASA as a telecommunications services provider. The company boasts two national telecommunications licenses, IECNS and IECS, plus a number range. Within the telecommunication industry, it provides broadband fibre and wireless terrestrial last-mile technologies for enabling multimedia (data, video, voice) connectivity. Meridict is one of only 22 businesses in South Africa that holds both an IECNS and IECS licenses.
Yongama Skweyiya — InnoVartis Technology Systems
Skweyiya has a keen interest in technology, an education in innovation management and entrepreneurship running through his veins. Based in Cape Town, he describes his company as a mobile technology integrator, offering clients SMART technology solutions that will improve their efficiency and productivity.
Moses Mashudu — Munasi Consulting
Munasi Consulting’s services include service level agreements (SLAs), onsite support, software and systems development, consulting, designing and implementation of customised maintenance and support solutions. Additional services provided include corporate branding and design, web development, hosting, and IT solutions tailored at business development.
Jay Pancham — Harpan Technologies
Harpan is an IT company specialising in customised software development. The company boasts several software products including a Container Management System, Issue Management, and Environmental Management Information System.
Nkululeko Ndamase — Starfish
With a keen interest in providing solutions to society’s problems, Ndamase started Starfish, which he describes as an African Knowledge Society. Starfish provides a marketplace for students, entrepreneurs, knowledge workers and thought leaders to collaborate and get quick and precise access to research around their burning questions.
Sechaba Ngwenya — Creditable Co
Ngwenya who is the brain behind Creditable Co — an online service that allows anyone with money to become a lender. The peer-to-peer lending service allows lenders to lend to known borrowers and administers the whole process including contract terms. This is Sechaba’s second venture in the entrepreneurial field after having completed the first International Trade Programme in June 2012.
As a strategic advisor and on-the-ground implementer of sustainable micro and small enterprise development, MEDO helps to secure supplier relationships and expands trade within and outside South Africa. The company also assists corporate clients with their ED strategies and BBBEE point accrual.