TenaCiTi, Dutch Consulate in startup training drive


The TenaCiTi “people + potential programme”, in partnership with the Dutch Consulate, provides growing businesses and their employees with adequate training to get them workplace ready.

“The TenaCiTi programme is essentially trying to meet the needs of people development that are essential to small businesses and helping small businesses essentially to grow and flourish,” said TenaCiTi’s internship programme manager, Alexis Pillay, at a TenaCiTi event this week.

“Often small businesses are able to get funding for their organisation. They’re also able to get a lot of support when it comes to their ideas development but very often there is not a lot of support when it comes to people development and the potential for people to help those organisations scale,” he continued.

Companies selected to participate in the programme will receive specialised HR support while any of their participating junior staff will receive the opportunity to attend various skills workshops as well as e-learning initiatives. Their junior staff will also be receiving one-on-one coaching and various other social engagement skills training.

The Dutch Consul General, Bonnie Horbach, also commented on the programme, touching on various mindsets foreign interests have when breaking into the SA market space.

“We looked at the way we were behaving ourselves in the national environment. Often we see that a lot of people come to a lot of different countries with a lot of good intentions. But, very much come with an ‘I know what the solution is’ kind of perspective.”

Read more: New career acceleration programme hits Cape Town

“And so also the Dutch, we are known for our hard views and sometimes we forget to listen, and listening is one of the key things to understanding what the challenges are and to enable the ideas to create solutions,” Horbach continued.

Horbach also pointed out that, during an unrelated roundtable discussion with TenaCiTi and other SA and Dutch companies, one of the biggest problems that emerged was getting and keeping young recruits. This statement was also reiterated by the following speaker, co-founder and CEO of Yoco, Katlego Maphai.

Horbach adds that there were many opportunities in South Africa and that people from around the world are looking at SA and the African continent as a result.

TenaCiTi, in partnership with the Dutch Consulate, aims to provide SMEs and their employees with adequate training

“And, the young people in your society especially under the ages of 24 who are going to make the change, we have to invest in those people and I’m extremely grateful that you’re (TenaCiTi) doing that,” said Horbach.

When asked about future plans for TenaCiti, CEO of CiTi, Ian Merrington said: “We’d like to scale and find outside partnerships, you could effectively treat the first year as a proof of concept, to prove that it can work and go to market and showcase. We’re also in discussions with the Western Cape Government especially around apprenticeship – they find us quite appealing in the apprenticeship market.”

Horbach explained the motivation behind the partnership with CiTi.

“We saw a gap, it’s very important for a healthy economy to have corporate startups but also a middle group of companies. For those companies (middle) it’s very hard to recruit young people and to also mentor and develop them.”

Read more: Fintech Circle Innovate announces partnership with CiTi

“Sometimes you recruit somebody that might not have the skills yet but need to have that skills developed. So if we put our minds together we can actually come up with a programme where young people can come together and develop a network and also develop their confidence so that they can add value to other companies, I think that’s what we need in this country.”

Maphai also gave those in attendance some key advice when recruiting young employees. “Your work environment needs to cater for unconstrained thinking, different individuals, different personality types, diversity, it cannot be ‘cookie-cutter this is the way it’s done here’ – you’re just not going to get the best out of people.”

“Invest in your environment, there’s small things that you can do, have comfortable chairs, proper desks, proper internet, this sends a message to your staff on how serious you take them,” he continued.

One of the key points he stressed during his speech was that if you’re approaching an ecosystem which decentralises decision making, you should be understanding of your young and somewhat under-experienced employees’ mistakes.

“It’s all well and good to want to decentralise decision making, but you need to incentivise people to do it. The only way you can incentivise people to do it is by not punishing them when they make mistakes. That’s the key and it really needs to be embedded into the culture. Not only do you not punish them, you encourage them to put their hands up.”

One of the previous TenaCiTi cohorts, Vuyisanani Ndlazi from Innovo Networks commented on his time in the programme and what it taught him.

“The CiTi programme is shaping us in terms of how to work, how do we think, how do we respond to questions, how do we respond to our bosses or our clients.”



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