The need to develop and fast track entrepreneurs in South Africa is critical. The unemployment rate is 25 percent and concurrently economic growth has slowed.

Yet there is no shortage of entrepreneurs with feasible and scalable ideas that could be proven solutions to market needs. This is according to Marzanne Collins, Incubation Lead at Seed Academy, a training, incubation and funding ecosystem for entrepreneurs.  “Funding is the oxygen of entrepreneurs but without vital non-financial support – marketing for instance – it’s difficult for businesses to gain traction and become sustainable no matter how much funding is available. For this reason, our focus is on dramatically growing and scaling high growth potential businesses to levels of sustainability and profitability. We want to support government’s mandate to increase employment.”

The positive effect of entrepreneurship on economic and social development cannot be overstated. Entrepreneurs bring new products and solutions to customers, but more significantly create jobs. In Seed Academy’s 2015 Startup Survey, which received more than 900 responses from entrepreneurs, more than 60% of respondents employ between two and four employees. Whilst job creation is positive, the country needs this at a larger scale from small businesses. The National Development Plan’s objective is that 90% of new jobs are to be created by small businesses by 2030.

The amended BBBEE Codes which emphasise Enterprise and Supplier Development more than ever before are fuelling an interest in entrepreneur development.

To develop entrepreneurship even further, Seed Academy has increased its offering to include incubation incorporating learning from its accelerator and training offerings. As an added benefit, corporates can access start-ups with high growth potential while entrepreneurs, who are unable to pay for incubation, can access the partnerships created by Seed Academy.

“The South African startup market requires support in terms of incubation and it is a logical add-on to our ecosystem of entrepreneurial offerings. We partner with organisations that are leaders in transformation, helping them to achieve their Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) and Skills Development objectives to promote the effective implementation of the BBBEE codes. This simultaneously creates a competitive advantage for corporates through access to innovation and startups with high growth potential. In addition, entrepreneurs gain sponsored access to incubation and training programmes,” Collins explains.

Significantly, Seed Academy is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ programme. The specific needs of each corporate partner and entrepreneur is analysed to create the most impactful intervention. Training and incubation is either run from Seed Academy’s facilities in Johannesburg or Cape Town, or at the premises of corporate partners.

Seed Academy prefers to focus on quality interactions that lead to a business gaining real traction, rather than levels of activity for the sake of “keeping busy”. “We influence the skillsets, mindsets and behaviours for an entrepreneur to succeed and we measure success post incubation,” Collins asserts.

The incubation programmes lasts between 6 and 12 months.  Entrepreneurs are exposed to Exco meetings to define business metrics to be achieved during incubation and to focus on achievable goals. Strategic and tactical marketing coaching to find and keep customers is offered as well as leadership and personal management coaching to build confidence.

Masterclasses cover both business and technical skills and entrepreneurs are exposed to both potential funders and customers. Desk space and facilities are also provided.

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For interviews, photographs or further information, please contact Michelle K Blumenau at Turquoise PR & Marketing Communications 011 728 5004 / 083 273 9891.