MINISTER of Small Business Development Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams officially launched the Centre for Entrepreneurship Rapid Incubator at Walter Sisulu University’s Zamukulungisa site in Mthatha on the 24th June 2022.
The Centre is a partnership between the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) through Seda, and the Walter Sisulu University (WSU).
The centre exists to assist up-and-coming entrepreneurs to overcome barriers identified in their entrepreneurial journey as well as reduce youth unemployment.
The centre is furnished with state-of-the-art equipment, an ideas lab, and a makerspace, and is aimed at providing support to youth-owned enterprises, which often have little to no capital or funding.
Ndabeni-Abrahams said, “through this centre, young people will be assisted to deliver economic freedom through leveraging technology trends and doing things differently.”
Ndabeni-Abrahams further added that the launch is a significant milestone toward meeting the objective of pushing back the frontiers of poverty and unemployment in the country and creating a nation of entrepreneurs.
The WSU Deputy Vice-Chancellor Institutional Support, Dr Prince Jaca, said, “the university prides itself on creating work-ready graduates and those with skills to create jobs.
The mandate of SEDA and DSBD is in line with that of the university, to sustain business growth and ensure that they do not fail.”
He emphasised the fact that the CfERI is a source of hope for the young people, and a tool to fight unemployment, poverty and inequality, which is a serious problem in this country.
WSU built the Centre to the value of approximately R6 Million and the Department of Small Business Development collectively contributed R3 m.
SEDA, an agency of the Department of Small Business Development was responsible for the design and set-up of both the Innovation Space and Makerspace, which are situated in the facility.
Moreover, SEDA is responsible for continuous support in terms of monitoring and evaluation of the Centre.
The Department of Small Business Development covers the operational costs of the Centre, such as staff salaries, programme costs, and the development of entrepreneurs.
WSU students, promising entrepreneurs, and small business owners in Mthatha and surrounding towns were present to witness the launch of their business incubation.
Among the external stakeholders who were present during the launch was the Centre, Executive Mayor of OR Tambo District, CLLR Mesuli Ngqondwana and Executive Mayor of King Sabata Dalindyebo, CLLR Nyaniso Nelani.
Both Executive Mayors offered words of support and committed to ensuring partnership with the CfERI.
“The city will be looking at mechanisms in which they can interact and partner with the centre, so that the centre’s ideals may not perish,” said the executive mayor of King Sabata Ndalindyebo Municipality, Nyaniso Nelani.
The Centre Director Dr Thobekani Lose assured access of all stakeholders to the CfERI infrastructure, networking and mentoring in a form of support to the small development projects.
“While the CfERI will focus on the university, it will also service all sectors and small businesses in the Mthatha area to unearth new ideas and assist business ventures run and owned by the youth,” said Dr Lose.
Ndabeni-Abrahams was flanked by the King Sabata Ndalindyebo Municipality Mayor, Nyaniso Nelani; Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) Chairperson, Xoliswa Daku, the Walter Sisulu university Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Dr Prince Jaca and Walter Sisulu University Rectorate, Professor Nomabandla Cishe as she was cutting the ribbon and opened the doors to the centre for the first time.