4IRI and Cisco expand EDGE incubation hub network to Cape Town

Cisco Edge CT ribbon cutting

Small business enabling platform Fourth Industrial Revolution Incubator (4IRI) together with the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) and Cisco launched South Africa’s third EDGE (Experience, Design, Go-to-market and Earn) Centre in Cape Town. The new premises, located in Century City, joins the Innovation Hub in Pretoria and Durban’s Dube Port in a bid to help develop small and medium businesses in the digital age to speed up their entry to market.

Establishing EDGE Centres is a key pillar of the Cisco Country Digital Acceleration programme that it launched in 2019.

These centres leverage state-of-the-art Cisco communication and collaboration technology to unlock training, mentoring and enablement programmes that feed into the existing network of global experts who can help these businesses develop ideas and concepts that reflect the most pressing challenges facing the continent.

“The centre will see Cisco and 4IRI share their business knowledge and help develop small and medium businesses for the digital age,” says Charmaine Houvet, Public Policy Director for Africa at Cisco. “It will not only help speed up SMME’s entry to market but will also contribute to creating much-needed jobs in the Western Cape. We have developed this centre to provide SMMEs with an innovative space where they can grow and develop using world-class support,”

Naomi Musi, CEO at 4IRI, sees the collaboration as an aide to assist and enable SMMEs in the Western Cape to participate meaningfully in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. “We will help these budding inventors and entrepreneurs develop into successful leaders of industry and create an enabling environment for the youth of tomorrow to be part of the information economy.”

Nurture young entrepreneurs

In keeping with the hands-off approach to incubation Cisco has shown at the other such centres, this new addition looks to cause a ripple effect of innovation in the region that extends beyond SMMEs. The company sees this as an investment in education and skills development, and keeps a promise made to minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams when she set a goal of one million jobs.

“We must find ways to dismantle this persisting structure of our economy. Small businesses and the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) as the economy for the future, present an opportunity to transform this economy, said the minister of Small Business Development in her keynote at the launch event. “It is through partnerships with organisations like 4IRI that we can hold our young entrepreneurs by hand, nurture and support them to grow to be sustainable businesses that contribute to our country’s GDP.”

“Our intention as government is to place small businesses in South Africa as the anchor for economic growth and greater transformation because unlocking opportunities for small businesses in the value chains of the highly monopolised sectors of our economy.”

Cisco plans to expand the South African reach of the EDGE centres to Limpopo and the North West and through a partnership with the national libraries to open remote digital spaces.

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Feature image: Supplied

Lindsey Schutters


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