Small business department to partner with Vodacom to roll out four digital hubs

The Minister of Small Business Development Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has announced a partnership with Vodacom to roll out four digital hubs.

This, as Ntshavheni also revealed that the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) — which currently has an network of 58 incubators (see the list here) — will set up eight more incubation centres in the current financial year.

The announcement was made in her department’s budget vote (opens as a PDF) on Friday (12 July).

Ntshavheni (pictured above) said the partnership piggybacks on an already existing partnership between Vodacom and the Department of Basic Education to set up youth centres using former teacher training colleges (announced earlier this month in a statement by Vodacom).

Ntshavheni said the idea is to expand existing youth centres to become digital hubs

“The plan is to expand the youth centres to become digital hubs where our young and rural and township-based entrepreneurs can have access to technology platforms and resources for ideation, experimentation, testing,
and end-user computing,” she said.

She said the Department of Basic Education and Vodacom have already converted 92 youth centres out of the 140 teacher training colleges.

To cover the areas where there are no former teacher training colleges, the small business department will set up at least four digital hubs to foster geographic inclusivity.

In March the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) said it was ready to roll out a network of township digital hubs that President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in February would be set up over the next three years.

Ramaphosa made the announcement during his State of the Nation Address in Parliament in Cape Town earlier last month.

Seda indicated at the time that it expects to oversee the rollout of the hubs (see this story).

Eight new incubators

Turning to the planned eight new Seda incubators, Ntshavheni said the new centres will be set up in the rural and underserviced provinces of Free State, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Northern Cape, and North West and the townships of Gauteng and the Western Cape, she said.

Seda, she said, also wants to increase the period that firms are sponsored by Seda for incubation, from the current three years to up to five years.

In addition, the agency will adopt a standard incubator model based on best practice that will form the minimum framework for incubation in South Africa.

The department has over the last four years established 13 Centres for Entrepreneurship and Rapid Incubation in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges through partnerships with the departments of science and technology and higher education and training.

In the current financial year, these centres will be upgraded to full incubators in order to provide business incubation services for enterprises in townships and rural areas where they are located, said Ntshavheni. A further nine centres with full incubation services will be established in various provinces.

The department also wants to help the private sector to establish incubators in rural areas and townships.

Read more: Sefa’s Small Business and Innovation Fund to finance 100,000 startups, SMEs
Read more: Ntshavheni announces string of new initiatives to boost small business support
Read more: Meet SA’s new small business minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni [Updated]
Read more: Seda ready to roll out township tech hubs announced by Ramaphosa
Read more: SA government to set up township digital hubs in four provinces reveals Ramaphosa

Featured image: Vodacom

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