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When Keolebogile Motaung moved from being an academic to running her own business things were harder than she imagined.
“I did not even understand what pitching was,” said Motaung (pictured above, middle), who is the founder of Global Health Biotech. The startup, which she started in March, last year develops alternative treatment products for osteoarthritis, fracture healing, bone and cartilage regeneration.
But following training and support Motaung received from the FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme, her startup has begun manufacturing 5000 units of product she plans to retail at R100 each. She has already received commitments from various clients who are interested in buying the product.
The programme targets female bio-science entrepreneurs, and was launched earlier this year by the SA Network for Biosciences (SANBio), set up by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad). SANBio is jointly funded by Finland, South Africa and participating SADC member states.
I did not even understand what pitching was, says FemBioBiz acceleration programme winner
In September the professor in biosciences won R250 000 during a pitching competition the accelerator ran in September. The prize includes a study tour to Finland and the opportunity to attend the Slush 2017, one of Europe’s biggest startup events taking place between 30 November and 1 December 2017.
Motaung believes she is now confident enough that she can even advise other scientists on how to turn their ideas into viable businesses.
The entrepreneur is part of the first phase of the FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme which drew participants from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana, and South Africa for pitch training sessions between 25 May and 28 June this year.
The training sessions included an intensive two-day training course which culminated in participants pitching their businesses to a panel of judges. The top 10 performers then proceeded to a four-day bootcamp in Pretoria between 24 and 28 July.
This was followed by another month of mentoring in preparation for the grand finale, a pitching competition which took place at the 2017 SA Innovation Summit.
The top three winners received between R100 000 and R250 000 from SANBio to grow their businesses, while the top four winners will participate in the study tour to Finland and chance to attend Slush 2017.
The second runner up, Chengie Defluoridation Technologies founder Stella Gonye is developing a device that removes excess fluoride in drinking water. The third winner Sleek Foods founder Nkata Seleka produces ready-to-eat pastes currently being sold in several supermarkets across Botswana.
SANBio expects that the projects it is currently funding will reach commercialisation within two years. As it stands, eight of the projects have completed prototyping and one is already scaling-up production.
Featured image (from left to right): FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme winners Stella Gonye, Keolebogile Motaung and Nkata Seleka (Supplied)